Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty touts conservative credentials

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on "The Early Show," Tuesday, June 14, 2011.
UPDATED 1:30 p.m. ET
Tim Pawlenty
Tim Pawlenty

Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty is touting his conservative credentials in a television ad that hit Iowa airwaves Tuesday, trumpeting victories over public-sector unions and Democratic tax hikes.

The 30-second spot describes how Pawlenty, as governor of Minnesota, refused to compromise during "one of the longest transit strikes in history" in 2004 and a state government shutdown in 2005.

The footage shows union members protesting in front of the state capitol under falling snow, reminiscent of recent protests across the nation against Republican budget cuts.

"Result: Pawlenty won," the ad said. "Tim Pawlenty: Results, not rhetoric."

The ad makes no mention of the state's current shutdown, which started Friday over how to bridge the state's $5 billion budget deficit. Republicans have refused to raise taxes, according to University of Iowa political science professor Tim Hagle, though some groups may use the shutdown to dispute Pawlenty's claim of leaving the state with a surplus.

The current budget, which Pawlenty engineered, does have a surplus of $399 million, but only because of a $2 billion injection of federal funds. Former Governor Arne Carlson, a Republican who has been exiled from the party, has told the Minnesota Post Pawlenty's budget balancing tactics are nothing more than "shifts and gimmicks."

A spokesman for Pawlenty blamed the current shortfall on "massive increases in new spending" that he never would have approved. He said his budget surplus would even have allowed for a small increase in spending, without raising taxes.

The ad is Pawlenty's second to be aired statewide in Iowa, though it is not clear how much airtime it will see as the campaign declined to disclose the size of the ad buy.

Despite being the only major presidential candidate to air ads in Iowa, Pawlenty struggles to gain traction in the state, with a June 22 Des Moines Register poll giving him just 6 percent support from likely Iowa caucus goers. That leaves him behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

His campaign raised less than $5 million in the most recent quarter, on par with former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Rep. Ron Paul, but well behind front-runner Romney's $15-$20 million.