Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty earned one of Friday's largest applause lines at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) when he demanded that President Barack Obama "stop apologizing" for America.
Before a packed hotel ballroom crowd, the potential 2012 GOP contender ramped up his own foreign policy credentials by pummeling the president with unabashed criticism.
"Bullies respect strength, not weakness. So when the United States of America projects its national security interests here and around the world, we need to do it with strength. We need to make sure that there is no equivocation, no uncertainty, no daylight between us and our allies around the world," Pawlenty remarked. "The current administration doesn't seem to understand this principle. We undermine Israel, the U.K., Poland, the Czech Republic, and Colombia, among other friends. Meanwhile, we appease Iran, Russia, and adversaries in the Middle East, including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Mr. President, with bullies, might makes right. Strength -- makes them submit. Get tough on our enemies — not on our friends. And, Mr. President, stop apologizing for our country," Pawlenty said. "The bullies, terrorists and tyrants of the world have lots to apologize for. America does not."
On the domestic policy front, Pawlenty said that while Obama has excelled at duping reporters into comparing him to Ronald Reagan, the Democratic president has instead governed like Jimmy Carter.
"The individual mandate in Obamacare is a page right out of the Jimmy Carter playbook. The left simply doesn't understand. The individual mandate reflects completely backwards thinking," Pawlenty said. "They, the bureaucrats, don't tell us what to do. We, the people, tell the government what to do."
To restore America as a leader in the world, Pawlenty warned that there's lots of hard work to be done. "My friends, none of this is going to be easy," he told the conservative crowd. "If prosperity were easy, everybody around the world would be prosperous. If freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free. And, if security were easy, everybody around the world would be secure."
"It takes extraordinary strength to stand up to those who oppose these principles. But we can do it," he continued. "Valley Forge wasn't easy. Settling the West wasn't easy. Winning World War II wasn't easy Going to the moon wasn't easy. This ain't about easy. ... This is the United States of America. We are the American people. We have seen difficulties before, and we always overcome. We can and we will do it again.
"We will rise up, as our forefathers did, with the assurance of our time-tested conservative values, the wisdom of the American people, and the courage of our convictions," he concluded.
Prior to his remarks Friday afternoon, the former Minnesota governor sat down for a 45-minute Q&A session with conservative bloggers to discuss his record and possible campaign for the White House, weighing in on a few key issues. (h/t Hot Air)
In responding the unfolding situation in Egypt, Pawlenty criticized an incoherent American response from the Obama White House, as well as America's overall lack of preparation for the eventual turnover in Egyptian leadership. Cairo is the "third largest American embassy in the world," Pawlenty asserted, questioning how America lacked a plan of action for the democratization of Egypt.
Pawlenty also objected to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell while the U.S. wages two wars, especially in light of objections from a number of active combat units.
When asked about his past support for a cap-and-trade energy plan, Pawlenty said he was wrong to support it and wouldn't attempt to get "cute" in parsing words. Instead, he admitted it was just bad policy.
Video of Gov. Pawlenty's CPAC remarks available here.