Pawlenty: Time for GOPers to Get Off Bench


Tim Pawlenty has a message for the Republican Party: It's on like Donkey Kong. Let's get moving.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty

The former governor of Minnesota, a likely candidate for president, urged the flock of potential GOP candidates to "get off the sideline" and start engaging President Obama during an interview on Wednesday afternoon with Radio Iowa.

“Well, you know, it’s time," Pawlenty said. "It’s going to require that candidates make the case for why Barack Obama should be dismissed from his position and that’s going to require a big effort,” Pawlenty said, “and it needs to start now.”

Pawlenty is the only one of the party's "first tier" candidates set to participate in Thursday's first televised debate among Republican hopefuls. Putative frontrunner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is skipping the event and has been keeping a low profile. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels also are not debating, for various reasons. Even Donald Trump is avoiding it.

Obviously, Pawlenty has a vested interest in drawing the biggest audience possible for the debate, but he is not alone in his concern. The GOP campaign to challenge Obama has been slow to start - dominated by sideshows over Obama's birth certificate - and many in the party are concerned that opportunities to make the case against the president are being squandered.

“We’ve got to get off the sideline.” Pawlenty told Radio Iowa. “We’ve got big challenges and it requires a big challenge and, you know, I think the time to engage President Obama is now.”