EAGAN, Minn. (KMSP) - Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty spoke publicly for the first time Friday after announcing his campaign for governor on social media earlier this week.
For his first press conference on the campaign trail, he packed reporters into his favorite restaurant, Hovies Grill—an eight-stool diner in Eagan—to talk about the toxic environment in politics and how he has the experience to solve some of the biggest problems facing Minnesotans.
Without providing details, Pawlenty touched broadly on a host of hot button topics that he says need improvement, from closing the education achievement gap to the opioid crisis.
The two-term governor has been mostly out of the public spotlight since his short-lived run for president in 2012, spending the past five years lobbying on behalf of banks in Washington, D.C.
Pawlenty is adding his name to an already crowded field, creating a big shakeup in the race for governor
Democrats are already blasting Pawlenty over the six-billion dollar budget deficit he left behind. His fellow republican candidate Jeff Johnson issued a statement saying Pawlenty is the last person Republicans should want on the top of the ticket.
But if Pawlenty were to become the Republican Party nominee, one of his biggest challenges will be balancing both his support and criticism of President Donald Trump.
“I voted for Trump,” Pawlenty said. “I support most of what he's doing on a policy level, I just didn't agree with some of his language and behavior.”