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Pawlenty: GOP demise 'exaggerated'

From NBC's Abby Livingston
If Rick Santorum delivered tough love to the CPAC audience, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
(R) followed him with sunshine. He opened his remarks calling his wife
"hot," and then declared, "The reports of the demise of the
conservative movement are greatly exaggerated."

He followed up with, "I've been to CPAC before. You are not timid. You are not weak."

Amid his jokes and anecdotes and metaphors and smiles, the
oft-mentioned 2012 GOP contender was on the prowl to shore up his
conservative credentials.

He hit as many boilerplate issues as he could, using the word "God"
often; he praised standardized testing; and he railed against the
tenure system in public education.

But at a convention where Al Gore is the equivalent of Public Enemy No.
1, Pawlenty advocated for alternative energy. He called for an "all
hands on deck" approach to get off oil.

"We need to do everything reasonable to get off foreign oil," he said, but in a move that would make Frank Luntz proud, he used a term called "American-ize" as a strategy for energy independence. The term, which he reiterated, seemed to fall in line with Sen. McCain's belief that society should use all forms of local energy to relieve oil independence.

Pawlenty's tone turned sharper when he shifted to the deficit. He called the new stimulus plan a "spending buffet." His most memorable line of the morning was one of the few harsh ones he delivered. He mocked the notion of Democrats as fiscally responsibly. He referenced a Democratic party summit on fiscal discipline, adding, "What's next? Are they going to have Rod Blagojevich convene an ethics summit?"