WASHINGTON, May 24 (Reuters) - Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty, who earned some influential praise for his stand against ethanol subsidies at his Iowa campaign kickoff, said on Tuesday there should be no “sacred cows” in cutting federal spending.
During an Internet town hall on Facebook, Pawlenty renewed his call for phasing out federal subsidies for the corn-based fuel, saying it was “not just about ethanol” but should be part a broader reform to eliminate subsidies across the board.
“Given the financial crisis that we’re facing, we have to phase out not only those subsidies but subsidies across all industries,” the former governor of Minnesota said during the event, held while he campaigned in southern Florida.
Pawlenty took questions online from viewers who could watch a live stream of his responses on Facebook.
At Monday’s campaign launch in Iowa, Pawlenty portrayed his push to phase out ethanol subsidies -- a politically unpopular stance in the corn state -- as evidence of his willingness to “stand up and level with the American people.”
The call drew praise from The Wall Street Journal editorial page, an influential conservative voice, which lauded Pawlenty for passing “an early test of fortitude.”
Pawlenty is counting on success in Iowa, which holds the first 2012 nominating contest, to propel him to victory in the Republican race for the right to challenge President Barack Obama.
The president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said on Monday the group welcomed reform of ethanol subsidies but the “massive amount of federally funded petroleum incentives” must also be targeted.
“Iowans look forward to Governor Pawlenty further detailing his plans to ‘phase out’ petroleum subsidies, perhaps in a speech in Houston, Texas,” said the group’s president, Walt Wendland.
Pawlenty did not name other industries he would target in eliminating federal subsidies, but promised to spell out more soon when he offers an energy program. (Reporting by John Whitesides: Editing by Doina Chiacu)