Pawlenty, the Careful Attacker

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 13 2011 10:08 AM

Pawlenty, the Careful Attacker

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- With one word that isn't actually a word -- "Obamneycare" -- Tim Pawlenty whetted the bloodlust of the political press corps and got them asking him if he'd go after Mitt Romney even more. But at his New Hampshire events yesterday, Pawlenty refused to toss out any more chum. At a press conference outside a Greenfield, N.H. picnic hall, reporters basically pleaded with Romney to go further. He was cagey. The lightly edited transcript:

REPORTER: So are you taking the gloves off a bit?

PAWLENTY: I was responded to a question on the show this morning about similarities between the president's plan and the Massachusetts plan. I just commented that it's obvious, President Obama said in his own words that he patternedObamacare after the health care plan in Massachusetts, merged those two thingstogether to form Obamacare, or as I call it, Obamneycare.

REPORTER: Is that going to be a line we hear a lot?

PAWLENTY: I don't know.

REPORTER: Gov. Romney says there are major differences between his plan and the Obama plan. What are you going to say when he says that?

PAWLENTY: I was just making the point that the president himselfembraces the Massachusetts health care plan as the blueprint for what they didwith Obamacare. So I referenced and cited the president’s own words in thatregard.

REPORTER: Do you dismiss what Gov. Romney says?

PAWLENTY: I was just making the point that the president said thatthe Massachusetts plan was the blueprint for Obamacare.

REPORTER: So you dismiss the defense of what Gov. Romney says?

PAWLENTY: Well, the president says that he patterned his plan after theplan in Massachusetts, and that was I was referencing on the show.

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No more red meat for you! Pawlenty struck the exact same tone at an avail in Derry -- no more mentions of "Obamneycare" unless asked. It's a disciplined strategy. While everyone obsesses over "Obamneycare," Pawlenty drops the term. Shiny objects work!

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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