June 28th, 2009
02:40 PM ET
7 months ago

Pawlenty: GOP's 'clearly' been damaged


WASHINGTON (CNN) – With two prominent Republicans falling prey to sexual scandals in as many weeks, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty candidly conceded Sunday that his party is in trouble.

Asked on CNN’s State of the Union how much damage the recent admissions of marital infidelity by Nevada Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford have done to the Republican Party’s already struggling brand, Pawlenty said “it’s hard to quantify that."

“But clearly there’s been damage,” Pawlenty quickly added.

“Anytime you have leading figures who are engaged in behavior that is sad and troubling and hypocritical, other people are going to look at that and say, ‘They don’t walk the walk,’” Pawlenty CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “And so the words and the actions don’t ring true.”

Pawlenty called the situation between Gov. Sanford and his wife, Jenny – the couple is currently separated because of the governor’s extramarital affair – “a sad and troubling situation.”

“I’m proud of Jenny for her strength . . . and, frankly, I was glad to see her not standing at the press conference [where Sanford admitted the affair last week] like many others have and kind of charting her own path.”

And Pawlenty had harsh words for his embattled counterpart in South Carolina.

Sanford “should not have left the state and not allowed people to know how to contact him in case something happened,” Pawlenty told King. “Your staff has to be able to reach you and reach you quickly for all the obvious reasons – natural disaster, terrorism, or other events,” Pawlenty also said.

Asked about the GOP’s relationship with its socially and fiscally conservative base, Pawlenty said Republicans need to return to their values.

“If you’re going to be, for example, the party of fiscal discipline and be the person who’s talking about fiscal responsibility, then you better do that. Hypocrisy doesn’t sell. And, the Republicans have to be true to their values, true to their principles and walk the walk.”

After appearing to criticize some in his own party, Pawlenty was quick to take the edge off that harsher tone.

“Now, we live in a world where people aren’t perfect. . . There’s going to be dumb things that happen, sad things that happen, heartbreaking things that happen. So we can’t expect perfection.”


Filed under: GOP • Jenny Sanford • Mark Sanford • Popular Posts • State of the Union • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Bev

    When John Edwards cheated on his wife the GOP stayed out of it...you hardly heard anything about it. Not on radio and not on Fox. But of course since it's a GOP the left goes wild....which is stupid. There's cheaters everywhere, all ideologies. But that just shows the class of conservatives and the impulsive left. People know this...it's what separates the two. And people also know that the Democrats don't know the Democrats are spending too much and running the deficits up and inflation is sure to follow. And they know that it takes a Republican to fix it.

    June 28, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. katiec

    Damaged is putting it mildly. It would not have been as important if these two men had not been so hypocritical in calling for others to resign that had made "mistakes", touting family values and hiding behind their bibles.
    I give as much credibility to Palenty and the republican party as I do John King, who is one of the most biased commentators we have.
    And, CNN appears to be determined to report complete interview
    with this insignificant, hypocritical, hot aired politician and the undying support of King.

    June 28, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Obama is a Disaster

    When it means saving the country from tax-and-spend Democrats and a President who runs down America, the American voters will easily tolerate a few insignificant flings. 2010 cannot get here fast enough.

    June 28, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. truthsayer

    Damaged!?....thats an understatement. The GOP wont smell the White House for at least the next 20 years. Even if John King keeps giving them a platform

    June 28, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. David Jones

    Here's why the GOP still does not get it. It's not that Obama is spending; rather, he has to deal with a budget deficit of $1.7 trillion as part of his program going forward. His issues such as health care, climate change and so forth are budget neutral in that he funds them. What Obama has yet to do is raise taxes and cut spending to deal with the $1.7 existing budget that he inherited. To glossy over this point, as Pawlenty does and tries to tie it to Obama, ensures the GOP will continue to suffer defeat in the years ahead.

    June 28, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Jason in MN

    While it's possible to be true to the principal of fiscal discipline – as Pawlenty has done with MN – it also takes true character to see through the repurcussions of your decisions. This interview just reinforces the idea that Pawlenty is focused on his next step in his political career while leaving a HUGE mess in the state of MN for his successor.

    His unilateral budget balancing moves have hamstrung any number of state and local organizations, educational institutions, and the spirit and soul of what it means to be a Minnesotan. What he's done may look popular on the national stage, but he still wouldn't win MN in a general election, especially once we start living with the outcomes of his short-sighted slashing.

    June 28, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. Mo Mo

    When John Edwards cheated, the media had a field day with it. There was no particular need for right or left wing folks to drive the criticism machine, it was naturally in full force. Additionally we must remember, Edwards' issue was a private one as it really had no effect on his job performance, solely a family issue.

    In this case of Sanford, let's not get cheeky and forget that cheating is only a small part of the issue here. This guy, actually left his post. He left his state with no one in charge and no way to contact him for like a week to go get some in Argentina. I personally do not care about what others do with their messed up family lives, that is their business. However, leading a state is a rather serious job, so those who are so irresponsible have no business holding that job.

    June 28, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. Willow

    "....falling prey to sexual scandals...."

    The disclosure of these two recent affairs are NOT sexual, the affairs are moral scandals, which encompasses much more than sexual acts.

    The GOP have shoved their "moral" values, based upon their religious beliefs, upon the rest of the nation for years. How is forcing one set of religious beliefs on others granting Constitutional freedom for all? It isn't and the rest of the nation is fed up with GOP "faux" Christian values and these two "moral" scandals only demonstrate how vulnerable to republicans can be.

    My elder taught me, "Be careful where you point your finger, there will be three pointing back". So to the GOP, there are two and counting....

    June 28, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Larry

    The GOP was damaged long before Sanford and Ensign. Don't forget Bush, Cheney, McCain et al.......

    June 28, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. JonPeter

    Gov. Sanford isn't merely a liar and a cheat, he is incompetant and derelict in his duty as a governor. He should be impeached, not for his infidelity or even for lying, but for leaving his post without making sure the proper chain of command was in place during his absence.

    What is up with these corrupted, asleep at the job Republicans? They make the Clinton scandals look tame by comparison.

    Between incompetant elected offcials and the insanity of Newt and Rush, you can bet the Republican Party is in trouble, and the nation as a result.

    We need more like Pawlenty, Ridge, Crist, Jindall, Schwarzennegger and others for the Republican party to rebuild itself. Even the barely competant Palin looks good by comparison.

    June 28, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. Steven

    dearest Bev.......cheating is disgusting. edwards is disgusting for cheating. but, when edwards cheated, he was not an elected offical....thats why there was no need to make a big deal about it..though i think a big deal was made out of it and he paid the priceas he should have.

    June 28, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. Cathy inAZ

    Bev, John Edwards did not go to Argentina, did not lie to his staff about his whereabouts, did not just disappear for 5 days! It's the hyprocisy to say nothing of not transferring power to his Lt. Govenor. What's worse is his family did not know where he was – nice way to spend Father's Day – In Argentina with your mistress!!!!!
    BTW, the Republicans got us into this mess. Perhaps you are one of the wealthy that always benefits when a republican is in office! Class is not the word that comes to mind when describing conservatives!

    June 28, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  13. Bill

    why is pawlenty attacking republicans?

    June 28, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  14. Barkley Sutherland

    The reason the so called LEFT goes wild is because the GOP thinks they
    are GOD'S Party....they treat Democrats like they are immoral. The GOP, made up of many Southern Baptists believe their way is the only way. So.;..when a Republican messes up, they deserve to be targeted because of their holier than thou attitude. I am a Democrat, and have been a Presbyterian all my life.....but the GOP thinks I am part of an immoral party. The GOP deserves what they get!

    June 28, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  15. Mike

    The GOP is not being damaged, they are being exposed.

    June 28, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. Steve (the real one)

    It's true the GOp has been damaged! The problem is the GOP in it's current form has not been true to conservative priciples! The GOP spends like the demcrats spend! Upon first glance, there appears to be no difference! The solution is easy. Return to conservative principles! This TARP mess was started by Bush! Piled on by Obama!

    June 28, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. jt

    The GOP can't afford more damage, yet it is once again at their own hands. There are new reports today of Sanford having had 2-3 more affairs.

    State of the Union with John King is a misnomer. It is biased heavily to the right.

    June 28, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. girlymen love the GOP

    Ther best bet is to cut out the tumor,which is their base.

    June 28, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Claudia in Houson

    The GOP has damaged themselves with their religious moral righteousness packed with lies. It's always dangerous when religion is used to justify anything because there is a time and place for everything. Politics and religion just don't mix.

    June 28, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. David E.

    I am not taking sides here, but it has been my understanding that liberals are the most compasionate, kind, and understanding people who take the high road.

    Until you disagree with them.

    June 28, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. R in Maine

    They have not been damaged. They are the same lying people that everyone knew about all along. Their lies are nothing new, and making it public is what they deserve.

    June 28, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. jason

    "Asked about the GOP’s relationship with its socially and fiscally conservative base, Pawlenty said Republicans need to return to their values."

    Values don't come on and off like a piece of clothing. You live your values. The notion that one can return to your values is hilarious.

    How many politicians do we need to see cheat on their spouses, taxes, or communities in general before we realize how corrupt our government institutions have become. Just like big business, we the people need to insist on sharper penalties for wayward politicians.

    Clearly they aren't getting the message.

    June 28, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Barkley in WV

    Well said, Claudia in Houston!! Our forefathers knew what they were doing when they wanted religion left out of politics!!

    June 28, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. max

    typical repuke hypocrisy ... let them all burn ... cheney, in hell ...

    June 28, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. liberal in maine

    Asked about the GOP’s relationship with its socially and fiscally conservative base, Pawlenty said Republicans need to return to their values.

    just what values are they to return to: in Bush we had more government, more intrusion into privacy, more spending,. family values give me a break. Defense of marriage another joke. harming the traditional family now that is true.

    June 28, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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