For months now, AFPF and its sister group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), have been bombarding New Hampshire residents with radio ads and robocalls attacking the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Popularly known as "RGGI", the program has generated millions of dollars for energy efficiency projects in the Granite State, all while only costing the average PSNH residential ratepayer around 36 cents per month.
AFP and AFPF President Tim Phillips, a veteran of the public relations industry, was on hand at last week's summit to ensure that Big Oil's anti-cap and trade message was echoed by the leading 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls.
Tim Pawlenty spoke first, delivering an abbreviated version of his stump speech. As T-Paw prepared to exit the stage, Phillips confronted him with two questions, the second of which was focused exclusively on RGGI and cap and trade:
Phillips: Governor, as you may know, New Hampshire's House recently passed legislation that would allow New Hampshire to pull out of the RGGI system, which is a cap and trade style energy tax. As Governor of Minnesota, you supported something similar in the early 2000's I think on this issue. Have you changed your position and your views on this issue and if so how?
Pawlenty: Yes. A couple of years ago after considering cap and trade in Minnesota or regionally, I changed my position and said its a mistake, its stupid, and I'm sorry.
It is ham fisted and, this is a couple of years ago I think probably 2 or 3 years ago in a letter and other communications to the Congress I said, "I no longer have that position. It will be detrimental to the economy, destructive to the economy, ham fisted. It's wrongly directed, uh, wrong directionally, wrong philosophically."
I don't try to defend it. Everybody's got a couple of clunkers in their record. I just say, "That's one of mine. It was a mistake. It was dumb."Watch video of Tim Pawlenty's comments on RGGI and cap trade, which start at the 19:11 mark:
AFP Foundation Presidential Summit from AFPhq on Vimeo.