On to 2012: Pawlenty a Presidential Contender?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 3, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SENATOR-ELECT MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Last night was nothing more than a second chance to be the party that we claim to be in Washington.

GOV. JAN BREWER, R-ARIZ.: Tonight, we foreclosed on a House the one that used to be run by Nancy Pelosi!

FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, R-DEL.: We're not going to stop fighting either because there's a lot of work to be done!


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: All right, that is another look at some of the celebrations that took place across the country last night, but now that the midterm elections are behind us. All eyes are starting to focus on 2012 and a few names are already popping up on everybody's short list of possible contenders.

Joining me now is someone who has been rumored to be a possible candidate in 2012, the governor of the great state of Minnesota. Tim Pawlenty is here.

Governor, how are you?

GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY, R-MINN.: I'm doing great, Sean. Thanks for having me.

HANNITY: You got a governor's race open seat to take over for you and apparently, you got another Franken-Coleman thing emerging in -- what's going on?

PAWLENTY: You said 2010 was over, not quite. Automatic recount in Minnesota. I hope it doesn't drag on too long, but if it's like Franken- Coleman. I think that got decided in the spring.

HANNITY: What is it -- about 9,000 seat difference?

PAWLENTY: Approximately.

HANNITY: All right, -- the Democrats ahead?

PAWLENTY: The Democrats ahead, but there were some large irregularities in one of our counties last night, a 60,000-vote tabulation error. So somebody's going to have to get to the bottom of that and perhaps other things --

HANNITY: 60,000 vote tabulation error?

PAWLENTY: Right, in Hennepin County. They claimed they fixed it before the final results came out last night, but that's one of the things that's going to have to be looked at.

HANINTY: Wow, that sounds absolutely --

PAWLENTY: You just lose 60,000 votes here or there, you know, not that big a deal.

HANNITY: So they might have lost them.

PAWLENTY: They claim they found them.

HANNITY: They claim they found them.

All right, by the way, for the first name in what 38 years you have a Republican legislature, which then brings up the question, people had to split the ticket to get a Republican legislature and then a Democratic governor is in the lead in a close race.

PAWLENTY: Yes, of course, in Minnesota, we have that third party tradition as well. So the third party candidate got about 12 percent.

HANNITY: Yes, how is Jesse Ventura doing? He went off the deep end.

PAWLENTY: He's doing fine. He's got a new conspiracy TV show.

HANNITY: He deserves a conspiracy TV show.

All right, now let me -- first of all, your name comes up a lot. You seem to be laying the groundwork and we just had on Governor Palin and Rudy, but you seemed a little more active or proactive in laying the groundwork for a potential run in 2012. You must be thinking about it.

PAWLENTY: We've been doing a lot of work under the banner of the Freedom First pack and try to influence the 2010 elections with money and debate and ideas and appearances for other candidates. Now that that's done, we're going to decide what is next. For me as to 2012, Sean, I'll decide early 2011, first quarter next year.

HANNITY: All right, who are the top contenders? Who should -- you know, because a lot of people are asking me --

PAWLENTY: The usual suspects. Well, you know, of course, the names mentioned most often are Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin and you know, maybe Mitch Daniels, maybe Haley Barbour, maybe some members of Congress --

HANNITY: Newt Gingrich, maybe Rudy.

PAWLENTY: Newt Gingrich, of course, maybe Rudy, who knows.

HANNITY: What do you think off the top of your head would separate you from those people that are most often mentioned along with yourself?

PAWLENTY: A number of things. First of all, I grew up in a meat packing town so I got a blue collar background. I could go in and communicate with people in places like Minnesota and convince them why being a conservative is good for them and I've demonstrated that by getting elected and reelected.

Number two, I've got a record that I would put up against any governor in the country or any official in the country. Cato Institute just named me one of four governors in the country that got an A.

It was me, Mark Sanford, Bobby Jindal and Joe Manchin, believe or not, a Democrat. So we've done everything that the country needs in terms of spending cuts, taxes, public employee pension reform, health care reform and more. We've done all of that in Minnesota. So I think I have a record.

HANNITY: What is your take on last night's election?

PAWLENTY: Well, a number of things. But I think first of all, it has been my experience growing up in that meat packing town when you mess with people's livelihoods and you mess with their families, they get mad and they buck up and that's what happened last night.

President Obama and the Congress and this federal government got to the point where they were messing with people's livelihoods and families and futures and American dreams and the American public stood up and said we've had enough.

HANNITY: Do you think this president has the ability to pivot, to adjust or is he tone-deaf? Is he too ideological to hear the message that I think was sent loudly last night?

PAWLENTY: As they say silver tongue, tin ear. Well, we'll see. That remains to be seen, but based on his press conference this afternoon. He sounded a lot like Jimmy Carter saying it's marketing, it's communication.

It is pretty tough to sell a crappy product and they've had a crappy product. So it's not about communications, it's about putting the product out there that's not any good.

HANNITY: I think the most revealing thing besides calling Americans enemies and Republicans can go in the back. The most revealing thing is he goes on Jon Stewart. He's been president for two years.

"Change is coming." That's not what he was selling us. He promised unemployment would stay below right percent. He promised that his economic plan would work. None of these things happened. Is this a case where he overpromised and underdelivered?

PAWLENTY: Well, fortunately his promises have an expiration date and so does his term, and that's coming.

HANNITY: Do you think he's a one-term president?

PAWLENTY: I hope so and I believe he will be. But, you know, as to the foreign affairs issues, Sean, this is somebody who -- you know, I think is embarrassed by America and our success. I think at times the feeling is mutual.

HANNITY: Wow, that's profound. Good to see you, Governor. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

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