Jobs, Libya, and The Tea Party vs. the GOP, According to Potential Candidate Pawlenty

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, will the road to 2012 take any of the politicians in Iowa today all the way to the White House? Because this is where it begins. And former Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty, isn't shy. In fact, he's serious, but will he run? We asked the governor that and much more at The Machine Shed Restaurant in Des Moines.


VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you, sir.

TIM PAWLENTY, R-MINN.: Good to be with you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: And nice to be in the state of Iowa with you.

PAWLENTY: Well, we're at The Machine Shed, which probably reminds you of your days of Deep Purple when -- the album similarly titled.

VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed, I do remember that. All right, moving right along. OK, let me ask you a question about something that's in the news today. The president has said today that on the table in the -- with NATO, there are military options in Libya. If were you president today, what would you do about Libya?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think we need to make sure that we stand for our basic principles, including these. Number one, we don't want new or continued radical regimes anywhere in the world. But importantly, we want to move these regimes towards our value system, including democracy, human rights, resolving disputes in a peaceful manner in a democratic arena, free and fair flow of information and others...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's not happening there, though. That's not happening there.

PAWLENTY: Well, I understand. So I would absolutely consider and likely deploy a no-fly zone over Libya for those reasons. We have a confirmed terrorist, a sociopath who is gunning down and killing his own people in the streets of Libya. We have, I believe, the reasonable capacity to prevent and stop that, at least as it relates to air strikes, and I think that's a viable option and he should take it.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, now to Iowa, where we are. Many people in Iowa think that you are the Tea Party candidate, although people also think that your colleague in the state of Minnesota, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, is the Tea Party candidate. Do you consider yourself a Tea Party candidate?

PAWLENTY: Well, I really appreciate the Tea Party. I think it's a positive force. I think they're bringing accountability, energy, new talent, new ideas to the conservative movement, and they're an important part of it. So I hope to earn their support. I also think I can appeal to the business conservatives, the social conservatives, and the whole range of the conservative movement. So I think I've got the ability to go across the whole continuum of the conservative movement.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the difference between, in ideology, Tea Party and Republican Party?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think the Tea Party is a mindset. There are certainly formal elements of it, but it's people who are fed up. They've had enough. So it's different, I think, in intensity. It's also different than I think it's probably more towards the libertarian end of the continuum than many of the establishment or traditional Republicans.

VAN SUSTEREN: I always thought Republicans ideology was small government, Tea Party says small government. It seems many of the things the Tea Party is speaking about, we don't like the fact that the Republicans aren't doing what they said and now we put their feet to the fire.

PAWLENTY: I think that's a good thing. We want people in elected office, particularly the ones who campaign within way and govern another to be accountable for their words and deeds. I think it is a helpful thing to have Republicans to feel a tap on their shoulder saying we are going to hold you accountable. That's a good thing in a democracy.

VAN SUSTEREN: I had the sense that tonight's event is about social issues. Do you think come 2012 the voters will be more interested in social issues or economic?

PAWLENTY: If you are going to be the President of the United States or a leader in a significant capacity you have to do more than one thing. Clearly jobs and the economy, we have to aggressively and boldly address that. But that doesn't mean that's the only thing we can do. You have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time and address more than one thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: One big issue is gay marriage. Are you for or against equipment? -- are you for or against gay marriage?

PAWLENTY: I'm a supporter of traditional marriage, Greta. I think it should be defined as between a man and a woman, and that's been my position in Minnesota and it continues to be my position now.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you tell gay citizens that you can't be married you can't have this formal contract with someone?

PAWLENTY: What I say is a marital relationship between a man and woman is unique and has had and should continue to have an elevated position in our society for obvious reasons. I will never be at the point where I say all domestic relationship are the same as traditional marriage. They are not. I want to preserve traditional marriage.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jobs. How are we doing on the job front? What would you do differently than what the president doing?

PAWLENTY: If we are going to grow the economy we should grow the private sector not the government sector if you talk to people who provide jobs they say get the government off my back. Make the load lighter. President Obama doesn't understand this. He has never had any significant affiliations or experience in the private sector. He's got a government centric view towards growing the economy. I've got a private sector view towards growing the economy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything Governor Romney can say about Massachusetts health care, the one that he signed that you could defend? How does he explain that to the voters?

PAWLENTY: I'm going to try to abide by Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, which we are not going to talk negatively about other folks.

VAN SUSTEREN: He signed that, that was a good law we he signed it. I think he actually said the other night there are still portions of it he likes.

PAWLENTY: Rather than criticizing somebody else's approach, I'll tell you my approach. Don't drag problems into Washington, D.C. or the state capital and try to create government centric, top-down command and control systems. Empower individuals and families in a marketplace. If they need financial help, give it to them directly, but give it right to them in the form of a voucher, credit, don't run the money through some big bureaucracy and create a marketplace not a government centric arena for these services to be made and delivered.