ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: If Congress’ passes a health care bill that would allow states to opt out of the “public option,” the issue will fall to state legislatures and governors, who would have to decide for themselves whether to have their states participate. On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., said he’d urge lawmakers in his state to opt out.
“I don’t know if we would opt out, but I personally would like to opt out because I don’t like government-run health care,” Pawlenty said. “And we shouldn’t call it the public option; we should call it what it is, which is government-run health care. They are desperate — the Democrats are thrashing about trying to find some way to get government-run health care into the final package, to embed it in the final package.” “And the rationale is, ‘We have to keep the private sector honest.’ So what’s next then? If you don’t like the price of toilet paper and toothpaste, are we going to have a government-run Target or Wal-Mart to keep the private sector honest?” Pawlenty said. “I mean, it’s a ludicrous proposition that government’s going to come in in this space and compete directly with the private sector. Whether it’s opt in, opt out, trigger — I don’t care. I don’t like the idea.” Pawlenty said he’d prefer that Congress give states the option than to impose it on the entire nation — but that he doesn’t believe it would be good for states to participate in. “In terms of the state option, it’s better than having them mandate it. But I still don’t like the idea, philosophically, of government-run health insurance. I think it’s a bad idea.” Pawlenty also said he was “concerned” about some of the positions taken by the Republican nominee in a special election in New York State, strongly hinting that he’d endorse the Conservative Party candidate in that race. (You can read more about that portion of the interview HERE.) On Afghanistan, Pawlenty expressed agreement with former Vice President Dick Cheney’s critique of the pace of President Obama’s decision-making. He also endorsed Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for additional troops. “I would support his request to put more troops in there. I’m concerned by the delay that President Obama and others have in making this decision,” he said. “I understand they wanted to do a review; they’ve done it and now it’s the fork in the road. They need to make the decision. And in the meantime we have troops and families wondering about what the future of that mission is. Are the troops going to be supported there? Are they going to advance? And there’s concern and questions that need to get answered, and now the president needs to answer them. And I wish he would do it soon.” And on immigration, Pawlenty said he would deal with undocumented immigrants who are now in the country based on their individual status. “I don’t think we’re going to give them or should give them a pathway to citizenship in terms of cutting in front of the line,” he said. “Some people, I think, should be returned or asked to leave. But if you have, for example, somebody who’s served in the military, has been in the United States for 20 years and has served with distinction and honor in the United States military, you going to throw that person out? So you know, I think it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. I think you have to go through the group of 12 or 15 million people and look at, you know, have they been crime free? Have they served in the military? And make some decisions on a case-by-case basis.” Watch the full interview with Gov. Tim Pawlenty HERE. We also chatted with Politico’s Jonathan Martin about the special election in New York, plus Democrats’ efforts to get a health care bill passed. You can watch that part of the show HERE.