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Pawlenty on Palin speech: 'Interesting'


From NBC's Domenico Montanaro

MIAMI -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty chose his words carefully when talking about Palin's speech here at the Republican Governors Association conference.

"She was mostly sharing her reflections from the trail," he told NBC
News in a corner of this sleek Miami hotel. "It was interesting. It was
mostly a summation."

But asked whether it fit the billing of the panel she spoke before,
about looking toward the party's future, Pawlenty said, "Was that the
title of the speech? Well, she referred to energy."

Much has been made of a potential rift in the party, between reformists
(with Pawlenty at the head) and traditionalists (with Palin at the
front of that group). Pawlenty gave a speech laying out his vision
yesterday for where the party should go -- that it should be more
inclusive, more diverse and expand its ability to compete in the
Northeast, the Midwest and the West. He urged Republicans not to give
in to either side, but called for a merging of both a modernization and
an adherence to conservative values.

Tonight, he said he doesn't think there is a divide in the party.

"The press is creating a divide," he said. "It's not a choice between conservative and contemporary."

He added, though, there would be a "new crop" that would emerge in the Republican Party. He said to watch, in particular, Meg Whitman potentially running for governor of California in 2010.

NOTES: On what he'd like to see out of a potential RNC chair, Pawlenty said the person should be able to rebuild the party from a technological standpoint, in how money is raised and who can bring in new voices, like from businesses and non-profits. He stopped short, however, of saying that person shouldn't be current chairman Mike Duncan, who appears ready to make a push for re-election. Pawlenty stayed out of that fray, saying he didn't know of all the contenders.