Short of pounding the table and demanding that Rush Limbaugh be given an NFL franchise, this is the quickest, easiest way imaginable to purchase credibility with the base. First the shots at The One:

“His solutions are federalization of policy, spending way beyond anything we’ve seen in terms of deficit or debt levels, spending the country into bankruptcy,” Pawlenty says. “And what’s behind it is a philosophy that government knows best, a nanny-state mentality on domestic issues that will ultimately be corrosive to the other pillars of our country — to markets, private enterprise, individual responsibility, freedom and liberty.”…

Obama sold his healthcare proposal as a way to reduce costs and help the economy. But, Pawlenty says, “I think it’s going to go down as one of the biggest bait-and-switch acts in history, in the sense that the diagnosis of the problem for the healthcare delivery system in the country was supposed to be cost-containment. In other words, we need to make it more affordable for individuals and families, businesses, and governmental entities. But instead they are now focused substantially on expanding access.”…

“President Obama has governed in an extremely liberal way, and he hasn’t accomplished many major initiatives, but the few that he has have been almost exclusively partisan. That defies what he said during the campaign and doesn’t live up to that promise.”

Follow the link for a few slaps over “weakness” on foreign policy, too. I confess, I don’t know enough about T-Paw to gauge whether this is from the heart or simply knee-jerk grassroots pandering ahead of 2012. Romney’s red-meatier rhetoric has always grated a bit due to suspicions that it’s more a product of the latter than the former, but that’s because his record has some notably lefty blips on it (RomneyCare, pro-choice prior to 2005). Not so with Pawlenty, although that bit about Hopenchange eating away at the fabric of American life is notably more acidic than one might expect from a guy not known for rhetorical bomb-throwing. Worth keeping an eye on.

If he’s going to go that far with Obama to polish his conservative authenticity, he might as well go all the way and endorse Doug Hoffman. And lo, it came to be:

Governor Pawlenty sent RedState the following statement:

“We cannot send more politicians to Washington who wear the Republican jersey on the campaign trail, but then vote like Democrats in Congress on issues like card check and taxes. After reviewing the candidates’ positions, I’m endorsing Doug Hoffman in New York’s special election. Doug understands the federal government needs to quit spending so much, will vote against tax increases, and protect key values like the right to vote in private in union elections.”

I’m surprised he didn’t do this last week before Palin endorsed Hoffman. He would have gotten major buzz for his boldness in becoming the first likely Republican presidential candidate to buck the party in NY-23; as it is, he ends up a bit of an afterthought to Sarahcuda. This is his way, I guess, of serving notice to her, Romney, and Huckabee that no one’s going to out-“true conservative” him, no matter how devoutly religious they may be or how phenomenally well their book might sell. Exit question: Does this mean Mitt and Huck are the RINOs in the race?