Tim Pawlenty: I Can Beat Obama and Stay a Social Conservative

Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota takes part in a session in Miami on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008, of the annual Republican Governors Association Conference.
AP Photo/John Watson-Riley
Republican Govenors Association Pawlenty
AP Photo/John Watson-Riley

During an appearance in the early-nominating state of Iowa, former Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Monday that he could beat President Obama in a 2012 match-up while staying true to his socially conservative values.

"Yes of course," Pawlenty said when asked if he could win, CNN reports. "If you're not willing to stand by your values, what's the point in doing it anyhow?"

Pawlenty, who has not officially entered the presidential race but is widely expected to run, was in Sioux City, Iowa to attend a lecture series sponsored by the socially-conservative group Family Leader. He touted his oppositon to abortion rights and same-sex marriage in a speech that portrayed the potential presidential candidate as a "devout, but approachable, Christian," according to the Des Moines Register.

"This notion that if you're pro-life you can't get elected, it's not true, even in Minnesota," Pawlenty said after his speech. "The goal here isn't to dilute what we believe in an effort to try to get support from the other side. The goal is to make sure that we stay true to what we believe, our core values and our core principles."

The liberal blog ThinkProgress reports that Pawlenty also confirmed his opposition to the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars gay men and women from serving openly. Pawlenty said Monday that he thinks it would be "reasonable" to withhold funding to keep repeal, which Congress passed last year, from going into effect.

Pawlenty made three speeches in Iowa on Monday, CNN reports, and he was in the state last month as well promoting his new memoir. Several possible 2012 presidential candidates have or will soon be appearing in Iowa, which traditionally holds the nation's first presidential nominating contest.