An awkward presidential cattle call in Florida?
It's disappointing that the Club for Growth won't allow reporters to check out its Winter Economic Conference this weekend in Palm Beach. Speakers include potential presidential candidates Haley Barbour, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty whose records are ripe for sharp questions from CFGers who prefer purity when it comes to fiscal conservatism.
In addition to spending and fee increases while he was Massachussetts governor, Romney has that pesky little issue of enacting in Massachusetts a health care overhaul much like Barack Obama's. ‘The individual mandate is diametrically against what free-market conservatives believe in,’ CFG vice president Andy Roth said last year. According to Greg Sargent, he added that if Romney thinks his plan amounts to a conservative policy ‘than I think he is in the wrong party.’”
Pawlenty may faces pointed questions about leaving Minnesota grappling with a major deficit, along with other issues. From the Washington Times in 2009: "He broke his no-new taxes pledge by supporting cigarette-tax increases,’ Club for Growth Vice President Sandy Roth said. ‘He signed a raise in the state minimum wage. He signed a statewide smoking ban. He supports government-negotiated price controls on Medicare...You put all of these liberal actions together, and he is not the true believer that the conservative base is looking for."
Then there's Barbour, who as Mississippi governor supported cigarette tax increases and a hospital tax, though we haven't seen any criticism of him from the Club for Growth.
A spokesman for the Club said it had no comment on their gubernatorial records but was just starting to compile white papers on the presidential contenders. Why no press? "It's a private event," said Connolly.