Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty addressed a crowd of approximately 100 in the Vermeer Auditorium at Pella Christian High School Monday afternoon.
Pawlenty's visit was the first in The Family Leader's Presidential Lecture Series. Over the next several months, the Family Leader will bring other conservative politicians and potential presidential candidates to speak at PCHS. Pawlenty told reporters that he was delighted to be first in the series.
Throughout Pawlenty's 30-minute presentation, he made several references to God, and reiterated his belief that America was founded on Christian principles. At the end of his presentation, Pawlenty told a story of President Ronald Reagan's inauguration, in which the former President had his Bible opened to 2 Chronicles 7:14. The passage, to Pawlenty, shows that if America turns to God, the country will start to heal.
“What a remarkable passage,” Pawlenty said. The former governor had previously mentioned his concerns regarding the country. He cited a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which showed that most people believe that China, not the United States of America, will be the dominant country on the planet in 20 years.
“That is one measure of the unease facing our future,” Pawlenty said. In his opinion, America's future is not slipping away. The key to America's future, and maintaining the country's status as the world's leader, is for good people to become involved in the political process. He believes it is necessary to “restore America's greatness with goodness.”
One of the tenets of his leadership is belief in the sanctity of life. Laws, and court decisions will change when minds begin to be changed about the right to life.
Pawlenty said, during his post-presentation question and answer period, that he had appointed four of the current seven justices on Minnesota's Supreme Court. He identified the justices as “conservatives” and that he took their beliefs into account before choosing to appoint them.
The Family Leader, led by Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats, encompasses the Iowa Family Policy Center, Iowa Family PAC and Marriage Matters. These groups have been on the forefront of the fight against same-sex marriage since 2008, when Iowa's Supreme Court ruled that the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The Legislature has failed to write any new law, nor amend DOMA, in response to the ruling, and county recorders are not allowed to take into account the genders of the parties involved when said parties seek marriage licenses.
Pawlenty strongly believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. He would also support the reinstatement of the military's “Don't ask, don't tell,” policy instituted under President Bill Clinton and repealed under President Barack Obama. Pawlenty pointed to reports from military leaders that indicated that the repeal would not be good for the armed forces.
“We have to pay great deference to those combat units,” Pawlenty said.
In addition to addressing the social issues, Pawlenty also supports competition among schools. He said it is not right for parents to have little choice but to send their children to government-controlled schools.
“We should push and support as much choice as possible,” Pawlenty said.
When he spoke of the economy, he said it is necessary to remove the burdens that discourage growth and job expansion. Pawlenty also supports simplifying the tax code, bringing it closer to a flat tax. He stressed that while he supports a flat tax, the country should avoid any value added taxes that would increase everyone's taxes.
One of Pawlenty's final remarks of the afternoon was that, as leaders are selected, they should be able to “walk the talk,” and follow through on what they stand for. That comment resonated with Joyce Mineart of Oskaloosa who was in attendance.
“I liked his comments about walking the talk,” Mineart said. She added that she liked what he stood for.
“I was impressed by him,” Jerilyn Van Weelden of Sully said. “I like his pro-life stance.”
Following the Pella event, Pawlenty spoke in Iowa City and Sioux Center, S.D. The Presidential Lecture Series continues at PCHS with Ron Paul on March 7, Michele Bachmann on April 11 and Rick Santorum on May 2. Lectures are also planned for June 6, July 11 and Aug. 1, though the speakers for these dates have not been confirmed.