OTR Interviews

Pawlenty Gets a Piece of Newt, Says, 'We Want an America That's Growing,' Not Obama's 'Average' America

Tim Pawlenty on his presidential campaign, getting a now-former aide of Gingrich, his economic plan and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 9, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Is President Obama really doubling down on bad policies? Our next guest is making a run for the White House. Former governor Tim Pawlenty joins us. Good evening, Governor.

TIM PAWLENTY, R-MINN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good evening, Greta. Thanks for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you for being here. Governor, I heard you had a policy speech recently on economics. And we're hearing a lot from potential candidates and candidates for president about what in the long term he or she would do for the economy. But I'm curious. People are really hurting. They need help right now.

If you were president, is there anything you would do immediately in the next day or week or month that could make any difference on these people's lives on getting jobs or the economy revved up?

PAWLENTY: Well, I gave a whole speech at Barack Obama's former place of employment, the University of Chicago, the home of Milton Friedman. And what we need to say first of all is let's have a positive, hopeful, optimistic outlook, not a declinist outlook like President Obama has. But we need to get people...

VAN SUSTEREN: It's hard not to right now. It's hard not to ... I tell you, I go across the country all the time. I've seen the signs for lease, for sale. I've seen the unemployment numbers. So people need help right now.

PAWLENTY: That's right, Greta. And here's what I hear every day from people who are job providers in this country. Get the government off my back. Make the load lighter, not heavier. So one of the things we could do is enact my tax plan. President Obama refuses to do that, other than symbolically. We got to have a transformative change.

What businesses and job providers are saying is it's too expensive, too costly, too slow, too intimidating, too discouraging to do business in this country. That's not the America we want. We want an America that's growing, not having an average or malaise attitude that President Obama projects...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let me ask you about that.

PAWLENTY: ... about the future of the country!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's say that you want a tax change. Can you do it by executive order or not? I doubt that you can be to change the tax code in this country -- I mean, on Capitol Hill, I can tell you, it's not easy to get things to move very quickly. It takes way too long for a lot of people. They're desperate now. Is there anything that, if you're president, you could do by executive order to give some relief? Maybe not, but the American people would love to know some answers.

PAWLENTY: Well, markets anticipate these changes. They're pretty smart about looking ahead a little bit. So one thing you could do right away, and which I would on my first day as president, is direct the Health and Human Services department to grant a waiver for every state who applies to get out from "Obamacare." And then I'd ask the Congress to make that change permanently.

I met a guy the other day, Greta, who's moving his business out of the country just because of "Obama care." And the list goes on and on and on. We've got people all over this country saying, It's the government that's weighing me down and discouraging me from providing jobs, not that they don't have the will, not that they're not willing to take the risk, but it's government, regulation, litigation, taxation, energy costs that are not bringing forward American energy and more supply and driving down costs and the like.

But I could do one thing very quickly and that is issue an executive order or directive to the HHS to grant every waiver for everybody out of "Obama care" day one.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, big news in the speaker of the House -- former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich campaign today, that there was a departure of many of his top aides. But one of the problems -- the most interesting thing as it relates to you -- is that his co-chair, national co-chair, is former governor Sonny Purdue of Georgia. And he has jumped ship to you. How did that happen?

PAWLENTY: Well, Sonny Purdue is a great governor and a great friend of mine, somebody I've known for years. And I asked Sonny to consider this at the right time and the right place, and I think he decided, in light of where Newt's campaign may be at, that this was a good time to do it.

And we're proud to have him and it's an affirmation of the momentum my campaign has, and we're going to change America by getting this economic moving again and getting this economy providing jobs again for people all across this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he call you or did you call him in the last few years? When did you get word that there was going to be this shake-up in the campaign for Speaker Gingrich?

PAWLENTY: Well, I've known him for years. He and I have worked together as governors. And I gave him a call today and just said, Look, I don't know where this is all headed going on from here. But when it's right for you, we'd like to have the honor and the opportunity for you to be a leader in our effort. And he understood that and agreed, and we're honored to have him on board.

VAN SUSTEREN: I've heard you say before about that you -- or maybe it was -- I don't know, maybe didn't, someone said that the Ronald Reagan rule about not speaking ill of fellow Republicans -- earlier this week, Ed Rollins, who has signed up for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's potential campaign, took a slap at former governor Sarah Palin.

If Ed Rollins were on your staff tonight or anyone else took a slap at another potential candidate or candidate or -- or member of your party, would you have a no tolerance and say, You're out of here, or would you come up with -- or would you issue some other statement?

PAWLENTY: Well, there's going to be some back and forth inevitably, Greta. But what I've told my team is this. We're going to abide by the fullest extent possible Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment. We're not going to start any of this stuff. I'm an old hockey player, though, and if somebody throws an elbow, you can expect there's going to be a response. That's for sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: What if your team throws the elbow first? If your team throws the elbow first, no tolerance or tolerance?

PAWLENTY: Well, if they say that somebody else's policy on taxes is bad and mine is good, I think that's probably within the boundaries. But if they are calling names or saying something that's inappropriate, I'd for sure tell them to knock it off. And if it was serious enough, I'd tell them to go find a different job.

VAN SUSTEREN: Would you get rid of Ed Rollins?

PAWLENTY: You know, I'm not going to get into the details of what other people's staffing arrangements should be. We got a country that's sinking. We got millions of people who are unemployed...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it sets -- you know, but it sets the point. You know what, though? Is that we've got to change the way politics are done in this country. And if -- you know, and see what positions people take about whether there's going to be smearing and trashing and everything, if it's going to be politics the usual, or whether we're going to try something new and try to do it just on the issues and -- and pound people on the issues but leave the other out.

PAWLENTY: Yes, look, I'm running for President of the United States for a country that I love. I got the skills and abilities to get this thing fixed. What somebody else's consultants or employees are doing, that's their business. They should deal with it. But you know, that's not the issue in front of us. The issue in front of us is how are we going to this country fixed and back on track. And what somebody else's consultants or staff does, you know, that's for something for the other candidates to deal with. I'll deal with my own, and we got our house in order and we're moving forward and we got momentum.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you. We're going to be watching. Thank you. Hope you'll come back soon, sir.

PAWLENTY: All right, Greta. Thank you.