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Don Davis, Published November 16 2009

Political notebook: Pawlenty makes his rounds on national stage

ST. PAUL – Minnesotans may think their home-state media report on Tim Pawlenty’s potential presidential run only because he is their governor, but the Republican is getting plenty of attention nationwide.

Online political writers have been watching Pawlenty closely. But so have traditional media reporters. Several national reporters attended his recent Iowa debut, along with about 10 Minnesota journalists and a few from Iowa.

Dan Balz, the Washington Post’s big-name political reporter, is one example. He wrote a story indicating some top Republicans question Pawlenty’s “instincts and his sure-footedness as a prospective 2012 presidential candidate.”

Many observers say Pawlenty has tried to appear more conservative as he moves onto the national stage, but he told Balz: “In general, I’ve governed as a conservative in Minnesota, so being conservative isn’t like a new development or a revelation.”

Balz called what he sees as Pawlenty’s movement to the right as “Romneyesque” because Mitt Romney in the last presidential race “lurched to the right in preparation for his presidential candidacy. ... The real risk for Pawlenty, as Romney learned in his unsuccessful 2008 campaign, is losing his true voice and his authenticity.”

While Pawlenty refuses to say if he is really running for president, he spoke to Iowa Republicans, and next month he will visit New Hampshire. That takes care of the first two states to pick presidential favorites.

Pawlenty’s out-of-state schedule continues to get more crowded. He is to headline an Alabama Republican dinner on Feb. 5. He was in Florida on Friday and will be in Austin, Texas, in the coming days.

This summer and fall he spoke in South Dakota, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, California, Ohio, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Puerto Rico, New Jersey and Virginia.

Lieder visits Israel

State Rep. Bernie Lieder toured Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial and Museum, recalling his days in the Army when he helped free Jews from slave labor camps and aided survivors of a massacre.

Lieder, DFL-Crookston, was part of a Minnesota legislative delegation led by Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, that toured Israel and the West Bank. He laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.

Lieder, the final World War II veteran in the Minnesota Legislature, was in the 102nd Army Division that freed many from Nazi slave labor camps in Germany in 1944 and 1945. He also aided survivors after a massacre at Gardenlagen.

Unallotment debate

The argument over whether Pawlenty had the legal right to unilaterally cut the state budget this summer, a procedure known as unallotment, returns to the surface today.

A House committee takes up a resolution that would add representatives to a court case challenging the governor’s powers. On the same day, a Ramsey County judge hears a motion seeking to temporarily overturn Pawlenty’s cuts until the court can hear the full case.

A handful of people who receive government financial assistance filed the lawsuit, saying Pawlenty overstepped legal and constitutional bounds. He made cuts in the state budget after he and Democratic legislative leaders failed to reach a deal on the two-year budget that began July 1.

Pawlenty has said he expects more legal challenges, but regularly says he will prevail.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com