June 28th, 2009
02:40 PM ET
6 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. Annie

    I have to agree with Pawlenty on all the points, especially the one where Jenny Sanford wasn't standing next to her husband at the press conference. Why do these wives feel the need to do this? It's baffling and insulting. And though my politics differ, as a woman, my heart and prayers go out to her and her sons. To have to do this publicly is a horror.

    June 28, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Jean

    Where is Gov. Palin?

    Gov. Palin is in Germany thanking our wounded warriors.

    June 28, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Bea

    Jenn– the difference between GOP sex scandals and Democratic sex scandals is that the GOP has positioned itself as the "family values" party, the "defenders of traditonal marriage" and Jesus.

    So, when men who have been ranting about how letting gays marry will tear apart the fabric of society and harm the institution of marriage turn around and repeatedly break there own marriage vows, THAT'S news!

    Democrats, on the other hand, are the party of "live and let live"– what people do privately doesn't effect or harm others, so let's just be tolerant. "Judge not...", if you will.

    When you don't CLAIM to be "holier than thou" you don't have to BE holier than thou, see how that works??

    June 28, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. Annie

    Jenn, you may want to look up the word hypocrite, and then re-think that comment of yours. Just saying.

    June 28, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  5. Longwolf

    If you ask me both parties are damaged and dysfunctional. They both should be disbanded and a people's party for the peple be initiated. We the people are the only ones who can do that. If you are satisfied with this take care of our brother attitude then you keep these political sex fiends, money grabbers and praisers of child molesters in office. Otherwise go to the polls and put them out of office. Lets take back our country. Other countries have the cajales to doo it.

    June 28, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    The republicans need to get back to our Founding Fathers of small government, strong defense, and individual responsibility. The democratsw are still the party of welfare and big government dependence so you have to vote for them. The special interest of the democrats are just as corrupt as any republican special interest including Halibutton.

    June 28, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. Karen

    I don't understand why more people don't see the hypocrasy in this situation. While standing there with his moral rightgeousness he has been having this affair for well over a year, yet I've heard people say that at least he didn't lie about it . Gov Sanford has been living a lie for a long time. The hypocrisy is the real problem for the GOP. They try to legislate morality and when one or ten of them slip up, then he's only human. When a democrat slips up he is a godless pervert. There is no compassion. That's why I am hoping the american people keep seeing through the party that refuses to move forward, that refuses to work with a president who has reached out to them and the party that has no new ideas.

    June 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Proud NY Liberal

    To Conservative Jenn:
    The prob;em with you conservative Republicans is that you constantly preach family values and moral values, as if every Republican is a saint and that every Democrat is the anti-Christ. That is wht when Sanford and Ensign are caught with their pants down screwing other woman it is the ultimate in hypocrisy. believe me, no Conservatice Republican knows Jesus Christ, they are all a bunch of greedy self righteous idiots. You all should read the New Testament sometimes, when Jesus gace his sermon on the mountain, "blessed are the poor, for theis is the kingdom of God". When Republicans stop wanting to give away tax cuts to their wealthy buddies, when they stop cuting money for educationa for the poor, then maybe, just maybe, they might be able to return to Christ;s flock.

    June 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. S M R

    The GOP has been going down hill for quite some time. The affairs are one thing , but what they do to our Country is what we have to avoid.Their policies are based on the rich getting richer and not listening or caring about the average middle class citizen.I call it TERRORIZM

    June 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Stuart

    Humans are religious creatures everything we do is shapped by our religion, whether we recognise it or not. Our forefathers didn"t want religion left out of politics (that's impossible), they wanted politics left out of religion. What a politician claims to be his/her religion doen't neccesarily match what they actually believe. Many people claim to be Christians who are not.

    June 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. Messiahsaurus

    Send Sanford to Argentina where he belongs and let his wife step into his office. I applaud her ability to show true face and not play the game.

    June 28, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. OBSERVER

    Republicans have no one to blame but themselves. They have tried to make family values an issue only to prove that they have NONE. Palin is just as bad as Stanford when she tried to USE her children as ploitical props. Unwed mothers is not the family values I have. DRAGING special needs children around like a badge and getting upset when someone uses a photo against her is not the values I have.

    The big difference between the DEMs and REPUBs is the Dems do not try to act like they are better than everyone else when the REPUBS preach their values and then show they do not pratice what they preach deserves contempt.

    June 28, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Independent in Columbia SC

    The probable reason that Mr. Sanford did not transfer power to his Lt. Govenor, Andre Bauer is that the Lt. Govenor is Andre Bauer. That is also the reason few South Carolianians are calling for his resignation. If you want to know more (and get an "I don't believe it" reaction), Google "Andre Bauer" along with any of the following words:
    "police officer pulls gun on", "speeding" (3 instances), "airplane crash", "private driver". We don't want or need Andre Bauer. As big a mistake as Sanford is, Bauer is unbelievably less responsible. As for not being in touch, that is what we have come to expect of Sanford: Someone who is really really "out of touch".

    June 28, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Republicans talk about returning to their values, but from what I see, they are all talk and no action! They preach to the rest of us that we should conduct our lives morally and right, then they get caught cheating on their wives! A note to Republicans.........stop preaching what you are not doing yourselves! Sanford is not the first Republican to cheat on his wife, but it is really ironic that he trashed Bill Clinton so badly for his mistake years ago. The Republicans need to stop acting so high and mighty, and accept the fact that they, or any of us are not perfect. Democrats are not immune to cheating either, but the difference is that the Dems don't put themselves out there as being so pure and perfect.

    June 28, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. zip

    This behavior has nothing to do with Democrats,or Republicans.It is a betrayal to the sanctidy(sp) of marriage.Before you get married men and women need to really do some soul serching.If you have the urge to jump in bed with every good looking person of the opposite sex at a party;at the beach;or meeting on the sudewalk ,you are destined for trouble after "I DO"

    June 28, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. John McCain

    I agree with David E.

    June 28, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Joyce Becker

    The Republicans are certainly in bad shape, who do they have left to represent them now or when they want to run for the presidency in 2012. It is more than the cheating that is the problem, it is their high moral stance that they keep preaching about, and then in secret they are the worse cheaters of all. You just can't trust too many Republicans. Sanford left his state for a week without telling anyone where he was and in his news conference, he made a fool of himself, is that the kind of person we want to take that 3:AM call, I sure wouldn't want the US to be in the hands of a person like him.

    June 28, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. AndyB

    Republican criticizing Republican LOL No wait, according to Faux news Sanford is a Democrat.

    June 28, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Funny how a little sex scandal can shake up the GOP but it stood like stone statues while Bush and Cheney lied and lied and LIED about Iraq, the 9/11 attacks, domestic spying, use of torture, prison camps, etc.

    June 28, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. Pat Dunedin Fl

    Talk about lies and foolishness. Why does't the Governor
    sign off on Al Franken. Minn is not composed of all Repubes.
    Unless he seats this man , he is toast and who cares what
    he has to say about Sanford!!! Birds of a Feather Bed Down
    Together!!!!!!!!

    June 28, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. OBSERVER

    I would like to point out how funny it is when a Repub gets caught with his "PANTS DOWN" someone has to say "Obama is taking the country in the wrong direction. AT least Obama is taking action and even if things are not moving as fast as everyone would like things are moving in a direction that is positive. I can see by the way some posters here haate Obama so much they would rather see the country fail than to see him succeed. It is clear that as the country recovers the Republicans will look silly for all their POLICIES OF NO. No is not an answer to the questions of today.

    June 28, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. Paul

    “And so the words and the actions don’t ring true.”

    Sums it up nicely.

    A real headshaker.

    June 28, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. Momto2

    Unfortunately, infidelity is rampant in our society and NOT just with politicians.... Its sad that those that are in the public eye and admit their wrong doings are made to look like the worst people in the world. It seems like it is the male politicians that admit the sexual misdoings, but what about all the femals politicians that stray? Maybe its because they are more discreet and don't openly admit to the world that they have been unfaithful. What is this world coming to where we have to blame the whole political party to which the wronged politician is associated with just because that person has strayed. Let God be the judge...as he always has been and always will be and let the families try to put their lives and marriages back on track without the public/media trying to interfer.

    June 28, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Doesn't matter.....

    Obama's favorable ratings on his policies are plunging....

    He's losing the battle against unemp[loyment....

    His outreach to Iran ended in total disaster as Ahmadinejad is telling him to mind his own business....

    N. Korea laughs at him and does whataever it wants....

    And he's spending us into bankruptcy......

    Dems can start packing in 2010.

    June 28, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. Peter (CA)

    Jenn-

    Sorry that you don't seem to get it either.
    It is about individuals, very flawed ones. Sanford, Ensign, Vitter, but also Clinton, Spitzer, and Edwards.

    The difference is the right claims moral high ground and screams whenever someone on the left does something untoward.
    THEY are the hypocrites. Maybe you should pay better attention.

    June 28, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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