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The Truth-O-Meter welcomes Tim Pawlenty
Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan March 22, 2011

Tim Pawlenty is among the first Republicans tossing hat in the ring to run for president in 2012. The former governor of Minnesota announced Monday he was launching a formal exploratory committee to run for president.

Pawlenty released a video announcement with themes espoused by the tea party movement

"This country was founded on freedom. We, the people of the United States, will take back our government. This is our country. Our founding fathers created it," Pawlenty said. "Americans embraced it. Ronald Reagan personified it. And Lincoln stood courageously to protect it.

"That's why today, I'm announcing the formation of an exploratory committee to run for president of the United States."

Pawlenty was a two-term governor of Minnesota and a state legislator and an attorney before that.
The move is not quite a formal announcement of candidacy, but Pawlenty said he expected that to follow soon. Other Republican candidates who’ve formally announced exploratory committees are businessman Herman Cain and Buddy Roemer, the former governor of Louisiana.

We’ve only rated three statements by Pawlenty; we’re sure to rate many more before the election is finished. By the end of the 2008 election, for example, we had rated 159 statements by Democrat Barack Obama and 153 by Republican John McCain.

Here’s a synopsis of the three rulings we’ve made on statements by Pawlenty.

• Pawlenty attacked public employee unions in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in December. Pawlenty said public workers had an unfair advantage compared with private-sector workers, thanks to "an inside job engineered by self-interested politicians and fueled by campaign contributions."

"The majority of union members today no longer work in construction, manufacturing or 'strong back' jobs," Pawlenty wrote. "They work for government, which, thanks to President Obama, has become the only booming 'industry' left in our economy. Since January 2008, the private sector has lost nearly 8 million jobs while local, state and federal governments added 590,000."

We checked Pawlenty’s numbers on job growth in the public sector. But we found the supposed growth was fueled by the U.S. Census. Those temporary jobs went away after the once-a-decade population count was finished. We rated Pawlenty’s statement Pants on Fire.

• Reporters asked Pawlenty in July what he thought about raising taxes to help deal with the federal budget deficit. Pawlenty said he opposed tax increases, adding "I don't think the argument can be credibly made that the United States of America is undertaxed compared to our competitors." We found significant evidence that the U.S. ranks low among other developed countries in total tax burden and that there actually is a credible argument to be made that the U.S. is undertaxed compared to competitors. So we rate his statement False.

• Finally, we put another of Pawlenty’s statements on our Flip-O-Meter, to see if he had changed his position on a cap-and-trade program to combat global warming. We found that in 2007 Pawlenty was pushing for aggressive reductions in greenhouse gases and a regional cap-and-trade plan. In 2009, he critiqued a cap-and-trade plan federal plan as "overly bureaucratic, misguided" and "very burdensome on our economy." We rated his position a Full Flop.

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The Truth-O-Meter welcomes Tim Pawlenty