HIF huff all hype
Saturday's convention wrap-up from the Pioneer Press:
Pawlenty fires up state convention as 2006 campaign nears
VALUES: The governor's views on abortion, marriage and religion are crowd pleasers.
BY BILL SALISBURY
ST. PAUL - If Republican activists were mad at Gov. Tim Pawlenty earlier this summer for enacting a 75-cents-a-pack cigarette charge and presiding over the first state government shutdown in state history, they apparently have forgiven him.
The 656 delegates to the Republican Party's 2005 state convention Saturday at St. Paul's RiverCentre gave Pawlenty an enthusiastic welcome when he stepped to the podium.
And by the time he finished pushing their hot buttons with a stem-winder speech, they were on their feet cheering.
That reaction suggested the GOP is united behind the first-term governor as he prepares to launch his 2006 re-election campaign.
Pawlenty appeared to cement the support of socially conservative party activists by reminding them he stands with them in opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage and in support of faith-based initiatives and gun owners' rights.
In what probably was a preview of his 2006 campaign speech, he began making the case for his re-election by touting his administration's successes: erasing a $4.5 billion budget deficit, holding the growth in state spending to an "historic low," reducing the number of state employees and maintaining the state's high credit rating.
He reminded the conservative crowd that he helped scrap the state's controversial "Profile of Learning" graduation standards and passed a new Personal Protection Act that makes it easier for adults to get handgun permits.
What really fired up the delegates were his stands on abortion, same-sex marriage and religion.
With the help of his "pro-life" allies, he said, "We have made great progress in the last three years, more than in the previous 15 to 20 years combined." As evidence, he cited passage of a "Right to Know" law that requires doctors to tell women about the risks of and alternatives to abortion 24 hours before performing the procedure, another requirement that doctors offer abortion patients anesthesia for fetuses 20 weeks and older, and new state grants to private agencies that provide alternatives to abortion.
He received prolonged applause when he renewed his call for a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. "One thing we know is that you can't have a strong bedrock of traditional families if you don't have marriage that is defined as between a man and a woman," he said.
He got his biggest ovation when he told the convention the First Amendment "was designed to protect people of faith from government, not to protect government from people of faith."
Contending religious organizations and government should be partners in helping Hurricane Katrina survivors, he said he would announce a "faith-based initiative" for the state in a couple of weeks.
His enthusiastic reception Saturday contrasted with the mild rebuke Pawlenty got from the party's central committee in June, when they dumped his choice for state GOP chairman, Ron Eibensteiner, and instead elected Shoreview businessman Ron Carey.
The June election was a referendum on Eibensteiner's leadership, not on Pawlenty's, Carey said Saturday.
"The party today is 100 percent committed to the governor," he said. "They may have differences on some issues, but I'd bet 99 percent of the delegates would say he's the best governor they've had during their lifetime." Several delegates echoed that sentiment. "Not everything he's done has been perfect, but the governor has done a pretty good job of getting things done with a Legislature that's evenly split" between Democrats and Republicans, said Russell Goudge, a home builder from Wyoming Township in Chisago County.
(Source: Pioneer Press, September 11, 2005)
Pawlenty’s fee didn’t piss off the base. The base is comprised of normal, hardworking Minnesotans that believe government should be small, abortions should be illegal, and that marriage is between a man and a woman. But the fee did piss off the activists, those who have put blood, sweat, and tears into getting conservative Republicans elected. They vented their frustration by ousting Eibensteiner, much like an angry child during a tantrum.
If Pawlenty can repair damage with the hardcore activists, then there’s hope that he’ll be able to lay blame for the shutdown on the DFL.