Pawlenty Dials Back ‘Obamneycare’ in New Hampshire

Jun 13, 2011 1:25pm

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) reports:

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty coined a word Sunday - Obamneycare -  and he has spent the past day trying not to repeat it.

Reporters following Pawlenty around New Hampshire have asked him again and again if this new word, tying frontrunning Republican Mitt Romney to President Obama on health reform,  signals a newly combative Republican contest and if Pawlenty will stir the pot at tonight's debate.

ABC's Aaron Katersky asked Pawlenty about the "Obamneycare" statement outside Caesario's pizza parlor in Manchester. Pawlenty did not repeat the term.

"I was just asked a question that related to similarities between what Obamacare was and what they did in Massachusetts and reiterating the President's own words that he looked to Massachusetts to merge or blend those proposals. That the President said he looked to Massachusetts as the blueprint for his plan."

Asked if he would use the term tonight, Pawlenty said "probably not."

No New Hampshirite this reporter has seen has yet asked Pawlenty about health reform or "Obamneycare."

He has gotten questions on everything from teacher accountability to the custodial rights of parents to the economy.

Pawlenty doesn't seem to need much in the way of last minute debate prep.

He has been the only Republican hitting the retail politics circuit here in New Hampshire, with a slate of events over the weekend and into Monday.

From a picnic Sunday, an Irish bar and bowling Sunday night to an orthopedics company and pizza parlor Monday, Pawlenty's appearances have gained a lot of national press reporters simply because he is the only person with public events.

Pawlenty has been typecast by some as a less-than-engaging candidate, but he played the comedian at the pizza parlor with these simple rules he will follow tonight – "Stand up straight and don't drool on yourself." He said if the candidates get a bathroom break during the debate he will try to be the first to get there.

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