2012 GOP Hopeful Pawlenty Backs Tea Party

Minnesota governor also strongly backs Rep. Michele Bachmann, host of House Tea Party Caucus.

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The rush by potential Republican 2012 presidential candidates is on to grab the Tea Party movement and today Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty auditioned with the with a winning line: Ronald Reagan was an original Tea Partyer. [See a gallery of Tea Party cartoons.]

Reviewing the history of movements like the Tea Party, he told reporters that "in every generation there is always some political insurgency." Looking to the last one he added: "At one time Ronald Reagan led the insurgency." And, he said, Reagan "turned out to be one of the best presidents in the history of the country, a transformational leader on multiple levels."

Praising Tea Party members, Pawlenty said, "they bring new energy, new talent, new people, they hold the old guard accountable, they rattle the cage a little bit, they're telling people shape up or we'll come after you in a political sense and that brings a renewed sense of accountability."

Pawlenty, who plans to decide on a 2012 run early next year, also had good words for Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who's caught some flack in the House for starting a Tea Party Caucus. Bachmann, he said, "is a powerful strong clear voice for the conservative movement in the country." [See who gives the most money to Bachmann's campaigns.]

  • See a slide show of 10 reasons Sarah Palin would make a good president.
  • Check out our editorial cartoons on the Tea Party.