ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a likely White House hopeful, was not kind on Friday to the country’s 44th president — or the 39th for that matter.
Pawlenty, in a speech at CPAC, pointed to the passage of the health care reform law and policies that he said amounted to “big government strangulation” as proof that “Barack Obama is not behaving like Ronald Reagan, he’s behaving like Jimmy Carter.”
“The individual mandate in Obamacare is a page right out of the Jimmy Carter playbook,” Pawlenty said, adding: “They, the bureaucrats, don’t tell us what to do. We, the people, tell the government what to do.”
He also offered a full-throated criticism of Obama, including the president’s response to the crisis in Egypt and other foreign policy challenges. “Bullies,” he said, “respect strength, not weakness.”
“We undermine Israel, the U.K., Poland, the Czech Republic, and Colombia, among other friends. Meanwhile, we appease Iran, Russia, and adversaries in the Middle East, including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Pawlenty said, urging President Obama “to get tough on our enemies, not our friends.”
His reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that is officially banned in Egypt but is said to have thousands of members there. Some U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern about the organization’s rise in the country now that President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down, but foreign policy analysts have downplayed its influence.
Pawlenty was clearly trying to stoke conservative flames on Friday, declaring that “America’s place is leading the world” not lagging behind other countries. He, and other potential GOP candidates who have been speaking at CPAC over the past two days, cited China as a looming threat.
The two-term former governor who has been laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign also cited his own executive experience cutting the size of government in his home state.
“If we can do it there, we can do it anywhere,” Pawlenty told the audience. “The naysayers say ‘we can’t cut spending; we can’t prioritize. They say we must raise taxes.’ I drew a line in the sand.”
Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse circulated a fact-check of Pawlenty's speech, which he said "came straight out of Bizzaro World – touting his fiscal record in Minnesota while omitting the fact that he left the state with a $6.2 billion deficit and hundreds of millions in new taxes."