Tim Pawlenty: Obama "absent" on major economic issues

(CBS News) Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty defended criticism that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has been vague on his economic proposals, and instead said President Obama has been "absent on some of the most pressing financial issues of the day."

On "Face the Nation" Sunday Pawlenty said, "I'll come to your house, Bob Schieffer, and mow your lawn if you can find President Obama's specific proposals on reforming entitlements in this country," referring to the programs Medicare and Medicaid that are a cause of the growing deficit. "So let's hold him accountable as well."

Schieffer asked Pawlenty about Romney's specifics on tax reform; on last week's program, the former Massachusetts governor declined to say which tax deductions and exemptions he would eliminate.

"So he hasn't put out a specific plan to eliminate any of the particular deductions within the tax code, but he has talked pretty specifically how he would reform, reduce, and cut down government responding overall and help put the country on a pathway to a balanced budget," Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty said Romney has provided some specifics: "He called for a 20 percent reduction across the board on individual income tax rates and for small businesses. He's been specific about his tax cuts for corporate tax rates now in America, some of the highest in the world."

Pawlenty, who was a candidate for the Republican nomination until he dropped out in August, also attended a retreat in Utah this weekend organized by Romney. Pawlenty said the retreat is a "kind of a rally" to motivate supporters to help the governor's presidential bid.

Pawlenty said he thinks a donation was required to attend the event in Park City.

"I think this was a group of his best donors, and so I think there were some requirements or donation level that you had to have met to be invited to this," Pawlenty said. "This was a gathering of Governor Romney's and Ann Romney's best friends and supporters and family members to give them a campaign update and a briefing, not just on the campaign but on issues, so that they feel informed and also can share that information with their networks and colleagues to get out the vote and get other people to support."

Schieffer asked whether attendance at the Romney event by individuals, such as Karl Rove, who are involved in Super PACs, whose operations are meant to be kept separate from political campaigns, was proper.

"It is, indeed, proper because the line between the campaigns and these independent groups is that you can't coordinate about the expenditure of money. So you can talk all day long about issues, policy, general things like that. You just can't cross the line to say, 'Now, you're going to spend your money this way and we're going to spend our money that way.' That's a little bit of an over-simplification, but that's the line, and certainly that wasn't crossed here, nor it will be during this campaign."

The former governor has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential nominee, but declined to say if he would accept the position, and said "I can best serve Governor Romney in other ways."

"I really encourage folks to look at other prospects and to suggest I think I can help him best in other ways," Pawlenty said.

Watch the full interview here.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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