Likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty on Monday sharpened his argument about why he has a better chance of defeating President Obama than other potential GOP candidates.
When asked by Fox News's Greta Van Susteren to make his case, the former Minnesota governor said he achieved some major accomplishments in a traditionally blue state. Declining to name names, Pawlenty suggested he is more compelling than others who prefer "giving a speech or offering a failed amendment in Congress."
"I was able to move the needle on spending, on taxes, on healthcare reform and many other things. So it's not only about giving a speech or offering a failed amendment in Congress," he said. "I actually got this stuff done in a very difficult environment."
Pawlenty is looking to boost his low name recognition and sagging position in the polls as the 2012 campaign season begins to heat up. His comments Monday were a bit edgier than his previous electability pitches.
He made his pitch on the same day that libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was to become the fifth potential GOP candidate to announce he is forming a presidential exploratory committee. Paul is known for proposing long-shot pieces of legislation, though his "audit the Fed" amendment gained traction in the last Congress — a modified version of it was included in the financial reform law.
Pawlenty's fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R), a Tea Party favorite who has clashed with the House GOP leadership, has also expressed serious interest in running for president. And billionaire businessman Donald Trump, whom Pawlenty has publicly welcomed into the race, has rocketed to the top of several polls after flirting with a run for weeks.
The former governor has annoyed congressional Republican leaders before, opposing the 2011 budget deal, which Paul and Bachmann voted against.
Both Bachmann and Paul have made several visits to the key caucus state of Iowa, where Pawlenty is looking to make a strong showing to build a foundation for his expected presidential bid. Paul will make his exploratory committee announcement in Des Moines on Tuesday.
Asked by Van Susteren how he would rise above candidates such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), Bachmann and Paul in Iowa and other early primary states, Pawlenty said that he would hammer home his jobs message all across the country in order to boost his standing in the polls, where he is only averaging 3 to 4 percent support.
"These early polls don't mean much, as you know. They're mostly name ID polls — only about half the people who are Republicans in the country even know who I am. And if these early polls were an indicator of future success, our friend [former New York City mayor and failed 2008 GOP presidential candidate] Rudy Giuliani would be president today," he said. "Of course, as name ID increases, these will change and a lot will shake out."