Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty added credence to rumors that he will make a bid for the White House in 2012, while attempting to craft a presidential image discussing GOP hot topics like American exceptionalism.
Pawlenty - who was on Sen. John McCain's shortlist for running mate before he tapped former Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008 - told a group of College Republicans that if he were going to run, it would be for the coveted Oval Office, not the vice presidential spot.
"If I decide to run it would be for president, not vice president," Pawlenty said at an event in the Marvin Center Thursday night, adding, "Whoever the candidate is if I run, and I believe it will be me,?there will be no shortage, no shortage of great talent," in the pool of vice presidential candidates.
Aside from talking about his political aspirations, Pawlenty said it's imperative to uphold the freedoms and liberties that distinguish America from other nations.
"I hope that you can also conceive of a future where government does what it needs to do," Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty said individualism drives everything in America, from entrepreneurship to communities, adding?that government intervention "begins to discourage not just those American activities, but it begins to diminish the American spirit."
Pawlenty spoke for about 15 minutes before taking questions from the audience, which included students from Georgetown, American and Catholic universities.
Pawlenty emphasized the importance of the Republican youth movement, in an interview after the event.
"We really want to encourage young people to get involved and stay involved in the future of the Republican Party," he said.
During his two terms as Minnesota governor, a traditionally liberal state, Pawlenty cut spending for the first time in its 150-year history, and said if he were to win the top spot, his first order would be to cut government spending.
"One of the most important issues facing the country is the out-of-control deficit spending that the government is engaged in, which can cause the country great harm if we don't get it back, headed in the right direction, " Pawlenty told The Hatchet.
Pawlenty also took time to extend his sympathy to those affected in the Tuscon, Ariz. shooting, while insisting that the only one to blame for the tragedy was the shooter, not heated political rhetoric.
"We can't judge others or make condemnations of others based on the act of a deranged person," he said.
CRs Chairman Jake Wolf said Pawlenty's modest upbringing in a small Minnesota town makes him stand out from other politicians.
"We have a lot of people who are very enthusiastic about Gov. Pawlenty's expected presidential campaign," Wolf said.
Wolf added that he was pleased that Pawlenty focused on restoring American jobs and increasing national security during his talk.
"His message really resonates, not just with GW students, but anybody who has experienced what America has to offer," Dan Horning, a sophomore, said.