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Tim Pawlenty on the election and financial regulation

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty waves as takes the stage during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Aug. 29, 2012 in Tampa, Fla.

Among the early contenders for president way back during the Republican primary was former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. He didn't win the primary, as we all know, though he did later joined Mitt Romney's campaign.

Pawlenty just started a new position with the Financial Services Roundtable, a lobbying firm that represents banks and other financial institutions. Pawlenty told us he will work to help "re-instate the credibility and vitality and integrity of these institutions."

Pawlenty addressed criticism that lobbyists have prevented the implementation of Dodd-Frank, legislation that would help regulate the financial industry: "To say that the delay in actually... getting the rules finalized and published is because of lobbying, I don't think that's fully accurate or a fully fair statement."

The governor started his new position with the Financial Services Roundtable on Nov. 1st. He says he doesn't have plans to re-enter politics any time soon.

Kai Ryssdal: Once upon a time, back in the early days of this campaign, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty made a short, not-so-sweet run at the Republican nomination. Things didn't work out for him. He eventually wound up stumping for Mitt Romney.

Until, about a week ago, he became the CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable. It's a Washington lobbying group that represents banks and other big financial institutions. Governor, thanks for being here.

Tim Pawlenty: It's great to be with you, thanks for having me.

Ryssdal: First of all, given the news of the day, I can't help but ask if you'd rather have done something different back in Iowa a year ago so you'd be on the ballot tomorrow.

Pawlenty: Well look, I had my chance at it. I think my presidential campaign lasted all of 10 minutes or so, but nonetheless, I had a fair shot at it and couldn't get it done. And now the attention turns to the nominees in the election tomorrow, and I know people are anxious and waiting to see what the results are going to be.

Ryssdal: I wonder if you thought about the irony -- appreciate the irony -- of you now being a key Washington lobbyist, having run, for much of your political career, as a guy who carried on against the entrenched interests. Certainly in your presidential campaign, there was a whole lot of that.

Pawlenty: Well, my role has changed, but in taking on the leadership of the Financial Services Roundtable, it's a lobbying organization, but my leadership position involves more than just advocating for policy positions. The financial institutions in this country are really important to the economy. And also obviously, the industry's gone through a tough patch.

Ryssdal: The industry may well have had a tough patch; I wonder if they've had a tougher patch than anybody who suffered during the financial crisis.

Pawlenty: They obviously, the financial crisis has had a devastating effect on individuals and families and people and the economy. We need to make sure that doesn't happen again. That's why when you look to the future, you want to make sure you look at a piece of legislation like Dodd-Frank, you don't want it to be overbaked. However, you don't want to have the government to go so far that they put so many burdens on lending that people don't make loans and do the things you need to have an economy that's vibrant and positive.

Ryssdal: Let's talk about Dodd-Frank for a second, because it has now been 27-something months since that bill was passed, and due in no small part to lobbying and lawsuits by the financial industry, it is not yet fully in effect. When can we expect that law to go fully into effect?

Pawlenty: The law of course has been passed, and now you have the regulators and the people who oversee the implementation and definition of it in the bureaucracy taking longer than many I think expected or hoped, to put forward these regulations. The industry has said in many cases, 'gosh, there's a lot of uncertainty given how long it's taken.' But also, we want to make sure they're clear and simple and practical and not written in such a way where there's uncertainty.

Ryssdal: Governor, you missed the point of the question: It's been more than two years and yet, in large part because of what your constituent members are saying and doing in courts and in lobbying, that law has not yet been allowed to fully be implemented.

Pawlenty: Well, the cause and effect part of your question, I would just flag a little bit and say, look, we have obviously have commented and the financial institutions have commented about the need to have rules that are clear and appropriate and strike the balance that I just mentioned. But to say that the delay in actually then pulling the trigger and getting the rules finalized and published is because of lobbying, I don't think that's fully accurate or a fully fair statement.

Ryssdal: How did you get this job? I mean, you're not a guy who's known as a lobbyist, you're not a guy who's known as a financial services expert. You ran -- famously your line during the campaign to the financial industry was "Get your snout out of the troth." I mean, how did you wind up doing this?

Pawlenty: I was contacted by an executive search firm that was trying to fill the vacancy is the technical answer. But I also think from the institution's perspective, I think they needed somebody from the outside who wasn't just a typical insider or from Wall Street.

Ryssdal: Can we take it from your having accepted this job that your future lies not in electoral politics? I'm asking now obviously of the 2014 campaign and Al Franken and the state of Minnesota for the Senate.

Pawlenty: I've publicly stated that I won't be running for public office in 2014 against Sen. Franken or anyone else in Minnesota or anywhere else. My focus now is on this job and trying to do what I can to reinstate the credibility and vitality and integrity of these institutions.

Ryssdal: Tim Pawlenty, former governor of the state of Minnesota, former presidential candidate. Now the president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable. Governor, thanks a lot.

Pawlenty: Thank you, Kai.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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Kai,
That was an absolute fantastic piece of journalism! It is now election day and many hours after hearing the story but I am still smiling. Keep up the good work! BTW, I did see the Big Sky story on Frontline last week. You folks need to get these stories out well before the elections and not on the eve of voting. Thanks.

So this is what real journalism is supposed to look like. Let me see if I've got this straight. When the person you are interviewing doesn't just dodge the question, but turns it upside down so it looks like he's a victim, the journalist actually follows up and asks him to answer the question that was asked? Then the listener either gets informed with a real answer to the question, or the listener understands that the journalist is interviewing someone who is trying to hide the truth.

I kind of like this style of journalism, I hope it catches on.

Great job!

Yes! Fantastic interview. Way to get that slimy hypocrite.

YOU GO KAI !!! This is another example of your program’s insightful reporting and being willing to hold these guys accountable (or at least try). A lesser reporter would have let his pathetic dodge slide. Thanks for your good work!

Kai, seriously? I was very encouraged when you pushed back on Mr. Pawlenty for not answering your question, but then you left him off the hook! At a minimum, after his second non-answer, you could have said something like."Okay, I will take that as a non-answer." Perhaps a better response might have been, "I hope you will contact me when you decide to answer."

Dear Mr. Ryssdal, You seemed surprised that former Governor Pawlenty did not get the drift of your questions. I am surprised that as an experienced reporter you are not aware that intellectual whores are notoriously hard of hearing (in addition to giving sex workers a bad name).

Way to hold his feet to the fire Kai. It's guys like this that are the problem. He's so full of crap it's coming out his ears. Gimme a break!

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