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Tim Pawlenty's travel aide tries to squelch Michele Bachmann question

Boy, the surly body man named Paul who tries to keep Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty on schedule sure didn’t want him to answer any questions – especially one about fellow Minnesota Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann. Here’s a near-complete transcript of a brief interview with the former Minnesota governor as he left a meeting at the swank Coral Gables Biltmore.

Paul the body man: We’ve got a live interview, we gotta go….

Q to Pawlenty: What brings you to Florida?

Pawlenty: Campaigning. We were in Tampa, Orlando, and today South Florida. We’re heading back

Q: Fundraising?

Pawlenty : “It’s a mix. We did some fundraising. We did some political meetings… It’s kind of a buffet of political stuff.”

Q: How’s fundraising?

Pawlenty: “We’re not gonna have the Bentley or Mercedes level of funding like some other candidates. But we will at least have a Buick level to be able to get done in Phase 1, which is the early states, and do it at a competitive level.”

Q: What will differentiate you from the other candidates in Florida and in the nation?

Pawlenty: “Everybody’s got a different personal background and story. Mine is not better or worse than anybody else’s. It’s just different. I grew up in a meat-packing town. I grew up in a blue-collar environment. It’s an up-from-your-bootstraps kind of story. Mom died when I was relatively young. My Dad was a truck driver and faced some other life challenges. So I think that helps as a connection and a point of being able to relate to people who have had some life challenges.”

“I’ve got a record like all the other candidates do. And I think mine’s the best in the field when it comes to taxes, spending and healthcare reform the right way, and taking on the tough issues before they became popular like dealing with public-employee benefits and pay… and lastly your ability to present the conservative message effectively in places that are swing areas. And everybody’s going to say they can do that, but I’ve actually done that.”

Q: What about the estimated $5 billion deficit that Minnesota now faces? Is that your fault?

Pawlenty: “The Democrats are spinning it that way. The last budget cycle for which I was responsible ends tomorrow. It’s going to end in the black with a big surplus. And that’s a good record. That’s a good result. Now what they’re talking about in terms of a projected deficit is for the period of the next two years coming up and that’s based on a 20-plus  percent projected increase in spending that I never would have allowed had I been in as governor.”

What about Bachman?

Paul, the body man: “We gotta go. We’re live. We’re live.”

Pawlenty: “Right now? OK. I’m sorry I’ve got to do...”

Q: Well, I’m going to put you down for no answer on that one

Pawlenty: Just. Just

Paul, the body man: "Call our campaign. We organized this…"

Q: I’m right here, man….

Paul, the body man: “We’re live. We’re live.”

Q: Just answer the question

Pawlenty: “I like Michele. I respect her. I’ve campaigned for her. Every candidate brings different strengths and weaknesses to the table. That’s what campaigns are about. I like her. I respect her.”