Pawlenty speaks at the Law School, his alma mater

The governor spoke about everything from global issues to his time spent at the University.

Courtney Blanchard

Gov. Tim Pawlenty returned to his alma mater Monday to give a speech at the Law School.

Pawlenty, who graduated in 1986, addressed the global economy, health-care reform and a professor’s advice in law school.

“He told us that each one of you are going to be trained in the technicalities of the law and the hazards, and the things that could go wrong,” he said. “But don’t lose sight of the joy and the fun and the recreation.”

Pawlenty said his first-year criminal procedure professor, the late associate professor Stephen Block, likened the legal profession to Mark Twain’s experience as a river navigator: when trained to look for hazards in the river, one often ignores the natural beauty. The same could be true with lawyers losing sight of the “beautiful legal system.”

Pawlenty, a Republican, said the University’s Law School taught him the communication and critical thinking skills he uses to govern the state.

Co-Dean Fred Morrison taught Pawlenty in his constitutional law and local government classes, where the governor was a “typical student.”

At the time, he didn’t sense that Pawlenty was anxious to run for political office in the future.

“He’s probably had less of a change in his basic personality than most (politicians). He’s always been a pleasant person,” he said.

Morrison said he also taught the former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch a decade earlier, which gave him a unique insight into the 2006 election.

“It makes it like casting a vote in a small-town election because I actually know the people running,” he said.

Pawlenty acknowledged the small-town feel in Minnesota, especially the “long-standing tradition of being a progressive-government state.”

He cautioned that times are changing, and the hypercompetitive global economy poses new challenges for the state.

“How far can you go in pressing taxes and insurance and regulations and mandates before you reach a tipping point?” Pawlenty said.

He said the country has been operating on an “old Europe” scale, in which taxes and regulations price some industries out of the market in exchange for certain securities.

One of those securities, and one of the most expensive, is health care, Pawlenty said.

“This part of the budget is growing so fast, that in 15 years, it’s going to consume just about everything else,” Pawlenty said.

Political science senior Lindsey Clayton said she respects Pawlenty for sticking to his beliefs.

“He’d be a strong candidate for vice president because of his experience in Minnesota,” she said. “If it’s for (Presidential candidate John) McCain, then that’s perfect.”

First-year math and economics student Saajid Islam said he attended the speech because he generally likes the governor and wanted to see what he had to say.

He expressed doubt, however, that Pawlenty would be an ideal candidate for vice president because of his ideology.

“He’s a pretty moderate guy,” Islam said.

The Federalist Society, a student group at the law school, sponsored the speech.