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Pawlenty Finds ‘Time and Space’ to Advance Campaign

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) acknowledged Sunday that he has a name-recognition problem, but he said he expects his profile can naturally rise in prominence as he runs for president.

“Only about 50 percent of the Republicans nationally even know my name,” Pawlenty, who announced his candidacy last week, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “So we have to get the name ID up and then convert that, of course, to support. But if you’re a serious candidate for president, that will happen naturally over time.

“But I like the fact that most of the other candidates are really well-known and yet they don’t really have a strong front-running position, and that gives us time and space to be able to advance our campaign,” he added.

Pawlenty said he is working on his own plan to overhaul Medicare that differs from the proposal offered by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as part of a fiscal 2012 budget resolution. Pawlenty’s plan would include performance-based pay for Medicare providers and different choices for Medicare users.

“If they want to stay in the current Medicare program or whatever comes next in that program, great, that’s their choice, but we’re also going to offer them a series of other choices so they can pick what’s best for them and their families,” he said.

But, Pawlenty added, “if the only choices were doing nothing like President Obama is doing and Paul Ryan’s plan, I’d sign it.”

He also said he would gradually raise the retirement age for Social Security for “the next generation, the people who are entering the workforce.”

Congress shouldn’t raise the debt ceiling, Pawlenty said, without getting “something really good for it,” such as a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution and specific, permanent caps on spending.

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