Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In South Florida, Tim Pawlenty praises GOP Medicare plan

Tim Pawlenty brought his nascent presidential campaign to Coral Gables on Tuesday to introduce himself to coveted Florida voters as the candidate who is not afraid to tackle thorny political questions such as overhauling Social Security and Medicare.

But Pawlenty, a Republican, did not take an unequivocal stance on the hot political issue of the day: a GOP Medicare reform plan. And the former Minnesota governor spent a chunk of his time talking to Florida reporters about … Iowa.

Pawlenty broadly praised the Medicare proposals outlined by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, head of the House budget committee, who called for a voucher-like system where Medicare recipients would have to purchase health insurance from private companies.

"I support the courage, I support the leadership, I support the general direction of it," Pawlenty said of the Ryan proposal. "But I'm going to have my own plan shortly."

His plan will address how Medicare pays doctors — and Social Security, including a proposal to gradually raise the retirement age for younger workers. Older workers, Pawlenty said, would not be affected.

"I've been told that you can't tell the hard truth to people 'cause you might lose the election,' " Pawlenty said. "I'm afraid that if we don't tell the hard truths of the country, we may lose the country."

His approach got him an appreciative tweet from a man many Republicans would like to see in the presidential contest: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said, "I admire truth telling and t-paw sure did it to open his campaign."

Democrats pounced on Pawlenty even before his news conference at the Biltmore Hotel.

"Will he answer this question? If president, would he sign or veto Ryan plan to end Medicare?" tweeted Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward Democrat and head of the Democratic National Committee.

Since Pawlenty formally announced his run, some conservatives have raised questions about his record as Minnesota governor. He touts it as red in a blue state, but critics point to a $5 billion deficit after he left office.

Pawlenty, who officially launched his campaign in a YouTube video Sunday, showed his campaign is still working out early kinks. He had to hold two press gaggles after his staff changed the location of the first news conference. Reporters who missed it waited outside for an hour until the second one.

Pawlenty touched briefly on a wide array of issues, including the importance of Florida in next year's election.

"The nomination could very well be decided in Florida," he said.

But he also made several pointed references to Iowa, which holds the first primary caucuses. It's where Pawlenty, a Midwesterner and evangelical Christian, might have the most appeal.

In South Florida, Tim Pawlenty praises GOP Medicare plan 05/25/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 12:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pepin daughters to take on Mount Kilimanjaro

    Human Interest

    About seven years ago, Tom Pepin and his four daughters stood at 12,000 feet, overlooking the Colorado Rockies during an outward bound survival training mission.

    From left, Christina Pepin, Lauren Pepin (Tom’s Wife), Cassie Pepin, Allie Pepin, Bella Pepin and Tom Pepin take a break during an outward bound survival training mission in Colorado.
  2. Music, memories, friendships lend energy to 'Senior Prom'


    RIVERVIEW — Mesmerizing music mixed with the mingling of friends to energize and engage a congregation of old souls Thursday (June 22).

    Louise Goff of Brandon does line dances during the annual Senior Prom hosted by Hillsborough County Aging Services at the Regent in Brandon.
  3. Tampa's two 'Olivias' maintain friendship as they vie for Miss Florida


    TAMPA — Olivia Butler, referring to a Biblical passage, assesses her burgeoning friendship with Olivia Fiss as "iron sharpening iron."

    Olivia Butler, left, and Olivia Fiss are two friends who are competing together in the Miss Florida pageant as Miss Tampa and Miss St. Petersburg.
  4. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times