This morning on Meet the Press, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty answered questions on the state of the 2012 race, his plan in Iowa and beyond. Pawlenty took the opportunity to continue his line of criticism against Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann by attacking her congressional accomplishments as “non-existent.” See the entire 18 minute interview below.

Report from Politico:

Tim Pawlenty. after slowly moving toward a sharp contrast with fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann for the past two weeks, finally went straight at it today, per Kendra Marr:

“I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I’ve campaigned for her. I respect her. But her record of accomplishment in Congress is non-existent,” he said, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We’re not looking for folks who just have speech capabilities,” he added. “We’re looking for who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I have done that, she hasn’t.”

It was a clearly planned hit, and is a signal that the race is entering a new phase in the lead-up to the Ames Straw Poll, an event to which Pawlenty’s campaign’s future is tethered.

Asked if the remark will be repeated in the future, Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant replied, “Stay tuned!”

Clearly Pawlenty thinks he needs to knock Bachmann down a few pegs to have a shot in Iowa where she has been rising in the polls.