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. Lothario

    This from a guy who cracked that his wife would rather go fishing than have sex! Seriously, I join those praising Jenny Sanford's behavior. A real "class act" which is a lot more than I can say for "Amore Marco".

    June 28, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Kuratali

    Jenn's contempt needs to be tempered by the fact Republicans sell themselves as being next to God. They talk about moral values, the sanctity of marriage, right to life, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Their religious arrogance out for all to see. Then they fall. When they do, all arrogance and hypocrisy comes rolling back at them tenfold. Not that amoral behavior is right for anyone, Dem or Rep., but if you're going to act as if you are holier than everyone else then be holier than everyone else, or pay the price.

    June 28, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. mabel floyd

    same song–second verse-another rep right winger shouts condemnation
    to those evil people not upholding family values–while cheating on their marriage –and gets caught with his/her pants down–what is so apparent is that the right wing evangelicals do not really care what their members do as long as they sit in their pew and yell amen on demand–condemn abortion–hate gays–and hate the evils of stem cell research–
    when will they learn that when the bible states , "thou shall not judge" that includes them!!!"
    now there are so many of them they do their "sorry about getting caught and refuse to resign–
    is this is the best of the rep the dems are in great shape!!

    June 28, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Wolves 4 Palin Charlotte, NC

    John King and Dana Bash and their continuous attempt to restore the GOP...

    June 28, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. Mark

    Bev...you need some serious help! You still seem to be drinking the koolaid!

    June 28, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. Rebecca

    Get real. I'm a lifelong Democrat, although I was raised in a Republican household.

    The bottomw line is that you have a moral responsibility to be who you say you are.

    I voted for Bill Clinton, but I lost respect for him and for Hillary. She should have kicked his butt out.

    My husband knows that if he pulled this kind of stunt on me, he'd be doing his news conference from the curb, while I'd be in the background helping the locksmith.

    Kudos to Mrs. Sanford for saying that his political career is HIS problem.

    June 28, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Mike

    Has anyone else noticed that noe ONE

    June 28, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. JonDie

    Unfortunately this party of backward-looking non-thinkers has not been mortally wounded.

    June 28, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. Don't worry about it......

    Obama will be much more damaged by his failure to stem the rising tide of unemployment and by his pathetic, dismal failure with Iran, N. Korea and Israel.

    June 28, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. waxwing069

    Pawlenty is a disaster for Minnesota. He insists on not raising taxes, But at the same time, it cutting funding to everything that makes Minnesota operate. From health care, public schools, transportation. etc... The latest choice he made was blocking the stimulus money meant for the states school system. He is keeping it to help pay off the debt Minnesota is getting into, because of his no new taxes policy. Also, when he first ran for election against a popular Dem. it was projected the Dem would win, since everyone liked him, but convienetly for Pawlenty , he died in a suspicious plane crash. The rep. party blocked all the money raised, and only allowed $1K for the replacement Dem, candidate to use for his election bid. Pawlenty is a crook.

    June 28, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Jack in Florida

    Republicans are the biggest hypocrites!!! They preach family values but don't follow what they preach. It is the do as I say, not as I do party!!!! They need to not be so judgemental and embrace diversity for we all do not fit into their little boxes that only the republicans can fit into!

    June 28, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Darryl Schmitz

    Too bad the media doesn' give a proportionate amount of attention to politicians who are faithful to their spouses and families as has been Rep. Ron Paul, who has been married to his wife Carol for over 50 years.

    June 28, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. Alan

    Paul from Kissimmee said: "The way Obama's taking this country right now, I believe people will wake up. Just remember, Carter's disastrous term brought on Reagonism, which this country will need once again."

    Paul, you ignorant dolt. Sorry - it's the only words that come to mind when some lame-head Repuke tries to say we're ready for MORE Reaganism.

    Let's see if we can start a brain cell or two firing for you: Reaganism run rampant is what got this country in such terrible shape Obama was elected to FIX it. Your party of choice has been destroying the country little by little since Ronnie was the puppet and now you complain that Obama's taking the country in a "dangerous" direction.

    Too bad the vast majority of Americans finally woke up from your evil crap.

    June 28, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. Lynn

    Poor Pawlenty. Apologizing for those hypocrits.

    Also Bev, you must have had the sound turned down if you didn't hear FIX News lambasting first John Edwards and then his wife for writing a book about it. Also, you must have been suffering the after affects of dipping into Rush's oxycontin is you didn't hear him rail on and on about the Edwards affair.

    The Great Obstructionist Party rarely stays out of anything – unless it is a popularity poll.

    June 28, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Independent_me

    I am no supporter of Republicans whom I consider repugnant and hypocritical...however, I praise Jenny Sanford for her dignity and her strength. Since she is the brain behind the man, I think that she should run for his office.

    He will not be faithful to you. He's got Maria under his skin...cut him loose and hold your head high, Jenny!

    June 28, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Liberals lack honesty

    Republicans are just hypocrites like Democrats. The Republicans need to stand up for small government, more freedom, less taxes, and get rid of corruption in DC. Stay out of the private lives of people.

    June 28, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. Hopeful Optimist

    Okay, I've read all of the comments so far, and the only thing I can say is this: Most things political in this country break along a percentage line of approximately 66 to 34, Dem to Rep, or Lib to Con. That's probably oversimplifying things a bit, but its not far off the mark.

    After eight years of wandering in the wilderness, the planets are once again in their proper orbits. There is indeed hope for the future.

    June 28, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Karen-phoenix

    I spent my life(65 years) as a republican but in 08 it was President Obama ALL the way and I am soooo glad I did!!! The republican party has become the party of rich, spoiled, selfish individuals who care NOTHING about the life of middle class America and it has been that way since Reagen. He destroyed the unions and the being of the end of the American auto industry with pushing BIG, oversized autos so the oil companies could make more money. He also took down the solar panels on the white house Carter put up and thus driving us into another 30 years of selfdestruction. Brazil changed and they are sooo much farther ahead of us. I'm now a democrate and the republicans are selfdestructing with their riches and big egos!!!

    June 28, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. James, Brooklyn NY

    How come we haven't heard from Shara Palin. She is on the air condemning every little Bs thing that happens is happening but a scandal in her own party and she clams up.

    June 28, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. Ron

    People on the right and the left see what they want to see, screen out what they don't want to see. Did you notice in these comments how many conservatives accuse the media, or the Democrats of ignoring the transgressions of Democrats, how many liberals accuse the media or Republicans of ignoring or excusing the transgressions of Republicans?
    People tend to see everything through their own filters. We all do it. But let's make an effort to wake up, question our own filters. We don't have to excuse bad behavior, but if we are aware of our own filters (not to mention our own foibles) we might be just a tad bit kinder and more civil to each other. Having genuine differences is not bad. But demonizing each other doesn't get us past the deadlock we are stuck in.

    June 28, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Hugo

    Please give me a break, the president Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky cigar smoking techniques out trump anyone, Republican or Democrat cheating on their wives. I mean think about it, Commander in Chief in the Oval Office. Not only the infidelity aspect but what about the sexual harassment aspect of sex in the work place, even if conscentual, sex in the workplace is not acceptable. I do not particularly care for infidelity in our elected officials but does it matter where they get their private jollies? What I really dislike is preferential treatment for tax cheats, for fraud and for stuffing their pockets with our tax dollars. Funny how the Dems wont investigate ACORN isn't it? Oh, and Truth sayer, if the economy doesn't turn soon, I would predict a Democrat will never have to be worried about being elected in our lifetime or our childrens lifetime, as they will be too busy working and paying taxes to pay off this Administrations debt!

    June 28, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Kuriya

    GOP think that they are the only one that know about God. The rest of the people who did not believe in their ideology is either consider non American or else. At times I listen to some of the conservatives, the way they talk and behavior I wonder what part of the bible they read. I think it is conservative bible invented by them.

    June 28, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Grand Old Hypocryte Party

    The Grand Old Party of Hypocrites, I think now America should have enough of them.

    June 28, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. JDB

    At what point does it stop hurting the party? The gop is already so diminished, on the fringes of irrelevancy (only 21% will own up to being republican) – at what point do you say that it really just doesn't matter?

    Right now the republicans are obstacles instead of advocates. They've opposite public opinion on many of the issues like health care. They're not listening – and as a result, I'd venture a guess and say that the majority of the country isn't listening to them either. The country voted for change, and the republicans are living in the past – lead follow or get out of the way.

    This incident just reinforces the notion that the republican party just really doesn't have any principles – none that can't be bought, sold, or ignored completely.

    June 28, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. B.H.

    I am sure that their political base will be right behind them in support.
    They will say that we are all human and make mistakes.........

    It is about total lack of -JUDGEMENT- which is what we hold to be the foundation of leadership!

    June 28, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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