OTR Interviews

Pawlenty: Why I Could Beat Obama in 2012

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 25, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now the race for the Republican nomination for 2012 is anyone's guess. We do know one big name is bowing out. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour making it clear a short time ago that he will not seek the Republican nomination.

What about former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty? He's in, not officially, but pretty close. He joins us. Good evening, governor.

TIM PAWLENTY, R-MINN., FORMER GOVERNOR: Good evening, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Everyone is talking about gasoline. What would you do in the immediate, right now about the gas prices, because they are killing everybody across the country?

PAWLENTY: It is tough to turn around quickly. One thing you can consider is a limited release from the reserve. In the intermediate term we have to get serious about Americanizing our energy sources and developing it aggressively. This president and this administration has been sitting on their hands in that regard. We should be drilling in ANWR and other places around the country. We should have an aggressive posture towards developing American sources. That would help.

VAN SUSTEREN: This president has been busy, I'm sure that you are not going to -- he's been busy with the economy. He came in with a bad economy, passed the stimulus bill in 2009. He hoped to get unemployment down to eight percent. The states you are campaigning in all or below eight percent, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire. Any sympathy for him in terms of the economy or think he messed this up?

PAWLENTY: Of course, he inherited a challenge. At the same time he's made it exponentially worse. He has taken the deficit and tripled it, misguided view of government's role in the economy, making everything government-centric. We should encourage job providers.

People invest and start to grow businesses. I travel this country every day. What the folks who provide the jobs are telling me is this president and the Pelosi-Reid Congress made the burdens too heavy. They don't respect what we do. They don't appreciate it. They are discouraging us. That's the wrong signal to send to people who want to grow jobs in this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: As I look at the campaign season it looks like Governor Romney is making inroads in New Hampshire. Iowa you are popular because you are from next door, I'm not saying that is the only reason. You are popular in Iowa. Congresswoman Bachmann is popular in Iowa, born there, and Congressman [Ron] Paul going to get into the campaign, well in 2008. Governor Huckabee is popular he hasn't said he's in. How do you maneuver in Iowa to ice out those others and win the caucus?

PAWLENTY: The early polls don't tell moo much. Only half the people who are Republicans in the country even know who I am. If these early polls are an indicator of future success our friend Rudy Giuliani would be president today. These will change and a lot will shake out. Whether it is Iowa New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina or anywhere else the message is going to be we have to restore America's promise by restoring America's common sense.

We have to increase the likelihood of jobs growing, not chasing them away like this president has done. And the concerns are the same all over the country. They say get the government under control. Have it live within its means. Get my kids a good education. Get gas prices reasonable. And please do something to get the government off my back.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is interesting that all Republicans have the same ideas in general. I'm curious in terms of how people look -- I realize 2012 is a distance away. How you determine which Republican would you vote for? One of the things likeability and the other is whether the person could beat the president. Why do you think you can beat President Obama more than other Republican candidates?

PAWLENTY: First, I've governed and got elected and reelected in a very blue place. I was able to move the needle on spending, on taxes, health care reform and many other things. It is not only about giving a speech or offering a failed amendment in congress. I got this stuff done in a difficult environment.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except you said no taxes you also left a $6.5 billion deficit, a huge amount. You are going to get hit a little with that.

PAWLENTY: Every state in the nation with only a couple of exceptions has a deficit in the case of Minnesota that assumes a big increase in state spending, 20 plus percent. By the way, every budget during my time as governor was balanced including the one that will end this summer, going to end up in the black. As for the future projected deficit an up zoos a 20 plus percent increase in spending. If they had a reasonable amount of spending even in a small increase they wouldn't have a deficit at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you, I hope you come back. It's a long road to November 2012. I hope you come back often, thank you.

PAWLENTY: Greta, thank you.