Three Republican candidates appeared at event in Des Moines this weekend, each promising to eliminate the federal deficit if they’re elected president.
Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty stressed his record as the former governor of Minnesota, and urged the crowd to look at the candidates’ results rather than just their rhetoric.
“An important question for you is going to be, ‘Who’s actually done this?’ Who has the skills and the ability and the record to actually do it, not just talk about it because the hour is late. We’ve had enough politicians talking,” Pawlenty said. “We need results. Our country is sinking and drowing in debt and we need to get this country turned around.”
Pawlenty also addressed critics who say he left the State of Minnesota with a budget deficit. Pawlenty told the crowd he left the state with a surplus.
“Now what some are saying is that the bureaucray in Minnesota has a projected budget deficit for the two years after that, but it’s based on a 20-27 percent increase in state spending. I would have never allowed that as governor of the State of Minnesota,” Pawlenty said. “…That would have been like saying, ‘You sell me your car, you know, and I get to go out and crash it up and it’s your fault.'”
Former Godfather’s CEO Herman Cain ridiculed congress as unwilling to make the tough spending choices that are necessary to erase the deficit.
“It’s not going to get done by the committee of 535,” Cain said, as the audience laughed at his reference to the U.S. House and Senate. “The only way it’s going to get done is with the right leadership in the White House where leadership is supposed to begin.”
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson gave the most detailed speech, pledging to cut defense spending by 43 percent and eliminate the federal income tax and replace it with a national sales tax.
“I’m going to view this as a job interview and I’m going to try and make the most out of this…so I’m going to have to toot my own horn, something that I’m not really used to, but I need to do this. I need to tell you who I am and what I’ve done,” Johnson said. “I’ve always believed that actions speak louder than words and that’s the way I’ve lived my life.” Johnson also repeated his call for decriminalizing marijuana.
The event was sponsored by Strong America Now, a Texas-based group that is pressing the presidential candidates to make budget-cutting a top priority. Two other candidates — Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum — spoke to the crowd in Des Moines via video.