No one is doubting that the state Republican Party convention in Rochester has been one of the more raucus in recent party history, particularly for a party that has been characterized by its discipline in the last couple of years.
Dissent from Ron Paul supporters certainly has played a role in how things have played out, but throughout the proceedings, state GOP Chairman Ron Carey has found himself in the crosshairs as well. The party faces questions about its bookkeeping and Carey himself was criticized for endorsing Mike Huckabee for president, which many in the party thought was inappropriate for a state chairman.
In a morning speech to delegates today, Gov. Tim Pawlenty gave a boost to Carey.
“Ron Carey has been working for this party with his heart and his soul for a very long time,” Pawlenty told the crowd, which gave Carey, sitting at the podium, a standing ovation.
Tony Sutton, state party treasurer, also addressed the struggle the party is facing, acknowledging “the party of fiscal responsbility was spending money like drunken sailors in Washington.”
“The key is remaining true to our principles and our platform because if we stray those checkbooks are going to dry up,” Sutton said.
Pawlenty’s comments were part of a more broad-ranging speech that included a boast about his record-setting career as the governor who has vetoed the most bills of any in state history. He called his vetoes “strapping on the political goalie equipment.”
Pawlenty also made an appeal for party unity in an election cycle that promises to be an uphill battle, dismissing Democrats as a group that “gives away free stuff. ‘You got a problem, we got a program,’” Pawlenty said of the Democrats.