After a long, often-heated Republican presidential primary campaign cycle, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minnesota), who briefly sought the GOP nomination, said the party needs to come together and focus its energy on defeating President Barack Obama.
“I remind people when the Red Wings, or the Lions or the Pistons go out and practice with their teammates, they don’t purposely take other teammates out at the knees,” Pawlenty said, speaking Thursday to Wayne County Republicans at the Italian-American Banquet Center in Livonia. “They don’t purposely go hit somebody in the mouth and knock their teeth out during practice. They save that for Sunday.”
Sunday, of course, meaning the general election cycle.
Pawlenty was a guest speaker at the Lincoln-Reagan dinner, sponsored by the Wayne 11th Congressional District Republican Committee and attended by local party leaders.
Joseph Xuereb of Northville, chairman for the Wayne 11th Congressional District Republican Committee, said the annual event tries to draw a national speaker, such as Pawlenty, to speak about topical political issues.
The event, Xuereb said, is to raise revenue for local Republican candidates in county and state races.
“We’ve got a lot of tremendous candidates for trustee, for county commissioner for legislature across the Wayne 11th District, which includes Canton, Plymouth, Northville, Livonia, and we want to propel them,” Xuereb said.
Many in attendance propped up their choice candidates by sporting campaign stickers on their lapels.
Xuereb said Pawlenty brought home the message that “we need core conservative principles to turn this country around.”
Pawlenty, whom some have speculated could be a running mate for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, didn’t tip his hand on his desire for being selected. When an audience member shouted that she wanted Pawlenty on the ticket in November, the former governor chuckled, but did not articulate a response.
In his speech, Pawlenty sharply criticized the Obama administration for increasing government’s role in business and in Americans' lives.
“We’re going to restore America’s greatness by restoring America’s common sense,” he said. “And I hope you’ve had enough of Barack Obama.”
Pawlenty said Americans have had enough of a president who “daily attacks free enterprise in America.”
Mark Hutchins of Plymouth, a member of the Wayne 11th Congressional District Republican Committee, said he admired Pawlenty’s points about the size and role of the federal government.
“We haven’t have the government growing, growing, growing and expect to not have uncontrollable debt,” he said. “We need to put government in the place it should be, and that’s limited.”