PAWLENTY: My position many, many months ago when I wrote an op-ed for one of the major national newspapers was this. President Obama was setting up this false choice between default and raising the debt ceiling. And at least for a while, you can take away that false choice by ordering the Treasury to pay the obligations to outside creditors first, and there's enough cash flow to do that for quite some time.
AMANPOUR: Do you agree that the military budget has to be really, really tackled very, very severely, in terms of cuts?
PAWLENTY: If you look at where -- I believe strongly that the first responsibility of the United States federal government is to protect this nation and our citizens, so I'm not calling for absolute or real cuts in defense. I think the growth can be slowed down. I think efficiencies can be found within defense. But I think those monies should be plowed back into defense to support it.
AMANPOUR: Small government is a rallying cry of the Republican Party. What is your vision of the size of government? You've said that it has to be more proactive and more aggressive. How does that square with the small government agenda?
PAWLENTY: Well, just because the government has an area of responsibility doesn't mean it has to be the provider of the service. If government has an ability and an interest in helping people with certain things -- and they should, like education -- then give people the money directly. Let them decide what's best for their family in a marketplace.
We shouldn't have a country where the government says, "Unless you're rich, you're condemned to go to a crappy school and your future hinges on whether some stupid lottery ball comes out so you might be able to go to another one." All kids, regardless of background, should be able to go to a school of their choice and realize their dream.
And President Obama, of course, one of the first things he does when he comes to Washington, D.C., along with the Democrat Congress who lecture us about how they're for the poor, eliminate the scholarship programs in Washington, D.C., one of the most pathetic things I've seen in public policy in my life.
AMANPOUR: I sense passion and anger there. And...
PAWLENTY: Well, I was the only one in my family who was able to go to college. And my brothers and sisters couldn't go, not because they didn't have the capability. They didn't have the opportunity.
But we can't afford to have a country of just over 300 million people with a third of our people uneducated or undereducated, unskilled, unable to access the economy of today and tomorrow, being ticked off and becoming wards of the state. That's not going to work.
And this system has to change. And the people who are defending the status quo are the -- they got the interests of the adults instead of the interests of our children and the future of our country. And it does make me mad. It does make me mad. And it's hypocrisy.
AMANPOUR: You do emphasize your blue-collar upbringing. Your wife introduces you as the salt of the earth. Do you think that gives you an advantage when you go into a campaign like this?