Pawlenty: GOP should consider shutdown if budget cuts aren't enough

Congressional Republicans should consider a shutdown if they can't win enough concessions on spending cuts, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said this weekend.

Pawlenty, one of the Republican Party's main contenders for the presidential nomination in 2012, said it could take "dramatic moment" to prompt the kind of spending cuts the House GOP wants.

"If it came down to it and it was between that and not getting the budget headed in the right direction, that’s an option I think Republicans have to consider," Pawlenty told the liberal blog ThinkProgress following his speech at a Tea Party gathering in Arizona.

The former two-term governor has been stepping up his rhetoric against President Obama and on political issues in general as he seeks to distinguish himself in the 2012 Republican field. Pawlenty auditioned his message on Saturday during a speech at a Tea Party convention in Phoenix.

As part of those efforts to distinguish himself, Pawlenty's spoken out against a looming vote in Congress to raise the debt ceiling, and has flirted with the prospect of a shutdown, noting that when Minnesota underwent a shutdown during his time as governor, it did not turn out badly.

Pawlenty did not call for House Republicans to foe a shutdown at this point; indeed, it looks as though a deal could make its way through the House and Senate this week that would fund government at reduced levels for an additional two weeks past March 4, when funding expires.

But he did advocate for Republicans taking a hard line with Obama and Democrats in control of the spending.

"We’ve got to get back to certain principles and responsibilities and starting with getting the budget balanced and if it takes a dramatic moment or a dramatic week or a dramatic month, those kinds of line-in-the-sand moments are what we need to get politicians back up against the wall and have them make the tough decisions," he told ThinkProgress. "They all talk about making the tough decisions and never do."