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In a bid to win favor with grassroots conservatives, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty gets fired up in a new video released Tuesday by his political operation. He praises the hard-line tea party movement as "part of the energy, the passion, the call for change" that has helped revive the Republican Party.
The 60-second video follows Pawlenty's second-place showing in a presidential straw poll last weekend at a Phoenix conference of the Tea Party Patriots, one of several anti-government spending, anti-Obama groups that boosted victorious Republicans in the November midterm election.
Pawlenty, a potential 2012 presidential candidate with a low-key, midwestern nice guy image, highlights in the video his fiery speech at the Phoenix summit. He vowed to the tea party activists, "We will take back our government -- this is our country!" In the straw poll, he finished second to conservative talk show host Herman Cain and ahead of libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). The three were the only prospective GOP candidates attending the event.
Pawlenty, who left office in January, also says on his Freedom First PAC website that he supports Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his battle to roll back the collective bargaining rights of public employees and demand larger pension and health care contributions from them. Walker, he said, is "making tough choices to avoid financial ruin in Wisconsin." In a reference to the National Governor's Association meeting at the White House earlier this week, Pawlenty said the "governors don't need a lecture from a president who has never balanced a budget."
Watch the Pawlenty video.
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