Pawlenty: Feds Responding to Oil Spill to ‘Best of Their Abilities’; Shouldn’t Change Drilling Policy

By Matt Loffman

May 4, 2010 12:10pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With scrutiny of the federal government’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico intensifying, the Obama administration may have an unlikely ally: Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty, R-Minn., a likely 2012 presidential candidate, said on ABC’s “Top Line” that while it’s too soon to be conclusive about the effectiveness and speed of the federal response, he thinks the government “is responding to the best of their abilities.” “It’s obviously going to be a catastrophe of significant proportions and it’s not yet under control. And so there’s a long ways to go before anybody can make any conclusions about what the cause was, how it was handled, how it was processed,” Pawlenty said in an interview that aired on today’s program.
“We know this: This is going to be a very damaging set of events. It appears like the federal government so far is responding to the best of their abilities, but again I think it’s premature to make any conclusions about what caused this, how it was handled and whether things could have been done differently. But right now we all need to pitch in and focus on trying to help the effort.” Though some political leaders — most notably Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif. — have said the oil spill from an offshore drilling rig convinced them to shift positions on drilling, Pawlenty said that’s a mistake. “Almost 40 years have passed with an incident like that. I think there’s certainly going to be lessons learned as a result of this tragedy, but I hope that they go to the issue of improving safeguards and improving technology and improving oversight, not trying to shut down drilling,” Pawlenty said. “I don’t think that would be wise…. We need to have a review of what happened and why it happened and then take those lessons forward. But again I’ve heard some voices in this debate say, ‘Let’s just shut it down,’ and I don’t think that’s realistic or wise.” Pawlenty spoke to us yesterday, while in Washington for a bipartisan governors’ conference convened by the US Chamber of Commerce to discuss the economy and job growth.  He said that he’s not convinced that the economy is on the road to a healthy recovery: “There’s certainly been some positive developments, but a few months of data doesn’t a long-term trend make. There’s a lot of concerns particularly around jobs. A lot of the recent job numbers are attributable to things like hiring census workers, and when you look at the unemployment rate on average across the country and in a lot of states, there’s still a lot of cause for concern.” The Democrats’ massive stimulus bill, he said, “was not very effective in terms of creating new jobs, particularly private-sector jobs.” “I think we would be in better shape if we would have had a better stimulus bill, and by that I mean [what] many Republicans argued for: a smaller, more targeted, more impactful stimulus bill that would have affected the private sector more directly,” Pawlenty said. He also declined to say how he would have handled the new Arizona immigration law if the legislature in Minnesota had sent him a similar bill. “I support stronger enforcement mechanisms for illegal immigration. I’ve done that in Minnesota in a variety of ways. It needs to be fair and legal, and I know there’s some concerns about that relative to Arizona, but they’re frustrated. I mean, they’re living in a situation down there where they feel many of their state’s citizens feel that the situation is out of control. The federal government has abandoned them or not helped them enough, and so tougher enforcement, stronger enforcement, securing the borders is a direction I think our nation needs to go, and need to make sure though that it’s fair and that it’s reasonable.” And Pawlenty said he doesn’t have any trips to neighboring Iowa on his schedule: “I don’t think I have one planned, but thanks for asking,” he said.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus