Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) sat with a round table of bloggers this, the second morning of CPAC.
Overall impression: Governor Pawlenty was most passionate when discussing foreign policy. He seemed to be offended, as a chief executive, at President Obama's obvious mishandling of nearly everything foreign policy.
He said, "We don't have the luxury of ignoring the world." He noted that President Obama spent less than three paragraphs on foreign policy in his State of the Union Speech and believes the president should be presenting a case to the American people during this time of multiple, ongoing conflicts.
Regarding Egypt, Pawlenty noted that President Mubarak is 82 years old. He wondered how the U.S. didn't have an idea of what Egypt would be like post-Mubarak.
In addition, he talked about how the Obama administration hasn't known what its been doing and all the conflicting messages from different members--from supporting Mubarak to saying he's not a dictator to saying he should be "gone yesterday."
Obamacare clearly irritated Governor Pawlenty, too. "[Obamacare] expands access to a broken system. It's going to cost more, not less," he said.
Pawlenty is a big fan of Health Savings accounts and bragged that 10% of Minnesotans have an HSA. He was angered that Obamacare would kill those innovations.
When asked what his most dramatic policy would be. Governor Pawlenty suggested that the tax code should be thrown out and that "we need to start over". He wants a much flattened tax code and spoke of tax earmarking where businesses receive favorable tax treatment.
Regarding DADT, Governor Pawlenty conceded that it's likely to be implemented before he would become President, but that he is in favor of repealing it because of his conversations with combat troops. His statements in this regard caused some controversy in Iowa.
When asked about losing Independents regarding DADT, he said that he felt that when people get to know him, that they like him.
Governor Pawlenty will be dealing with a big crowd. On the charisma account, he joked "look around....really, <em>really</em>?" He said that he'd concede Sarah Palin's undeniable charisma but he felt he beat the rest of the guys.
My sense is that Governor Pawlenty would be a good president, but there's a lot of ground to make up--financially and with just letting people know who he is.