Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty gave speeches in three Iowa cities today.
He’s the first of several potential G.O.P. presidential candidates who’ve signed up for a speaking tour organized by The Family Leader, a conservative group that used to be known as the Iowa Family Policy Center. Pawlenty told audiences in Sioux Center, Pella and Iowa City that he is pro-life and against same-sex marriage.
“Those are really important issues,” Pawlenty said. “And I’ve been both a fiscal conservative and a social conservative, but just about every issue can be and should be viewed as having some impact on family issues.”
In a signal that he’s paying close attention to Iowa politics, Pawlenty criticized faculty sabbaticals and the public sector’s benefits system during his speech at the University of Iowa.
“Public employees used to be over-benefited and underpaid. Now, in many cases, they’re over-benefitted and overpaid compared to their private sector counterparts,” Pawlenty said. “So the Board of Regents — the decision makers, the legislature have to insist that we can’t have people on the public system who are getting paid better and better than the people who are paying the bill.”
Republican legislators have voted to suspend sabbaticals for university professors as a cost-saving measure, plus Governor Branstad and Republican legislators have repeatedly criticized the pay increase former Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, granted members of AFSCME, the union the represents the largest share of state workers.
Next month, The Family Leader tour will host Republican Congressman Ron Paul. The list of confirmed speakers also includes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.