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. Larry Mac

    I get the feeling that the country is done with both of these old parties. But the 2 parties don't quite realize it and some Americans don't quite realize it. I believe that for many Americans the problem is what to do about the Democrat and Republican parties.

    June 28, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. Pete

    Well, either way say what you want about Sanford, he needs to resign, period. I said that about Spitzer and he did so. Then Senator Ensign needs to resign also. Let's clean up the Senate, governorships, house, etc., if you cheat or whatever, you need to resign...Dem or Rep. Just get out, get another job, no more lingering on the public dole.

    June 28, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. T

    How can we go back to Reaganism? We don't have any enemy to stand up to nearly large enough. We'd have to provoke one first.

    Of course, that might be the plan.

    June 28, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. lilacs

    Every time we have republicans in power for any period of time they get us into deep debut and the the democrats have to repair the damage while fighting the republicans lies and more lies. Everytme I have been laid off or lost a job because of bad economy it is alla republican that has been in power and left a mess for someone else to clean up. No more reganimoics or bushisms,enough of the the republican party. The party of no moral values, cut taxes for the rich and the spend, spend ,spend on wars based on lies and more lies, and support corprate welfare, and big goverment. After all it is the republican party that tell everyone what they can and cannot due with there bodies, how to worship , whom they can and cannot married. The democracts are not perfect but at least they try hard to work for the american people and do act like they are hoiler then thou.

    June 28, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. Mark

    Bev, you need serious help! Are your still drinking the koolaid?

    June 28, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. renobill

    I don't know why the Repukes are concerned. Just have Limbaugh, Hanretty, Cheney, etc. say that it's un American NOT to cheap on your wife, and the sheep will rejoin the flock.

    June 28, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Republicans are the American Taliban

    How much is being spent by the GOP to keep the rightfully elected Senator Al Franken from being seated???

    June 28, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Mark

    Clinton and the dems recovered AND so will the republicans!

    June 28, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. Alex

    This is just an example of how messed up Christian people really are. Jesus was a liberal. Obama is trying to save our country you ungrateful idiots. It is collapsing because they hold values which do not reflect the reality of modern life. The republicans have destroyed everything America stands for. Who do they think they are fooling.
    Go reread your bibles. You people have another think coming when and if judgement day comes. Especially those who use his word to manipulate the less informed.

    June 28, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. Rob

    Jenn,

    I guess you don't pay much attention to current events.

    June 28, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. A Kickin' Donkey

    I've tired of Republicans leadership hiding behind Jenny's skirt.

    How many of them dodge the question about Sanford resigning as Governor by claiming that the thing they care most about are Sanford fixing his relationship with his wife and kids ... give me a break .... do they actually think we believe this ??? It is the latest empty statement-de-jour.

    It ranks right up there with .................. "our children & grandchildren"

    June 28, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. Pat F

    @R in Maine: What are you yapping about? I am a proud Republican – fiscally conservative, serious about national defense and patriotic. I don't just love this country when it votes my way, and I have been proud of my country many times in my adult life, and NOT just when it hands me goodies for nothing.

    Pawlenty may think we're damaged – but the good, honest, hard-working Americans that make up the Republican Party are alive and well and waiting for a candidate that lives up to our best expectations, instead of down to our worst ones.

    No lies there, sparky.

    June 28, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. givemeabreakinCA

    It still amazes me that some people continue to rant and rave in defense of republicans and their "do as I say, not as I do" way of governing. There is a reason the majority of Americans do not like or respect republicans. We have had this religious dogma shoved down our throats long enough. I believe Republicans will become more and more regional in the next few years. And where is this insane idea that they are going to retake the majority in congress coming from? What a joke.

    June 28, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. Rob

    So Gov. Pawlenty thinks that straight couples deserve to have an "elevated status" in our law above gay couples? I guess he missed that old Declaration of Independence thing about everyone being "created equal" and the Constitution's guarantee of "equal protection" for all citizens.

    As a conservative Republican, I am embarrassed by the current crop of phony GOP politicians who just pander to bigotry by invoking their hogwash about "family values." All Americans deserve the same standing under the law - there is no privileged class with "elevated status."

    Republicans need to return to their traditional support of individual freedom: the right of each American to run his or her own life without Big Brother (or Big Governor Pawlenty) dictating to them.

    June 28, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. Allen

    The GOP and their supporters claim Democrats, liberals, center –left voters, etc...are immoral, yet the GOP has been extraordinarily corrupt (both politically and morally) for the last 20 years...when they get caught they blame democrats or say it’s no big deal...and then they label Democrats as hypocrites!
    Anyone who still listens to, or belongs to the Republican Party, has got to be nuts or brainwashed. The GOP is a morally bankrupt party.
    Also, why is it that when the news about Sanford’s affair was reported on Fox News, that they listed as a Democrat? They sure as hell knew what party he belonged too when he was fighting in court not to take stimulus funds!

    June 28, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. Andi

    Pretty obvious Pawlenty is gearing up for a White House bid. Laughable

    June 28, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Roscot

    Get rid of Democrats and Republicans...all are a bunch of fairies.

    June 28, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. Roscot

    Why wait for Republicans to get up before you kick them...do they deserve to get up? What a jellyfish!!!

    June 28, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. m00finsan

    Hey, Tim! Quit jabbering with this bobblehead and sign Al Franken's election certificate already!

    June 28, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. Legna

    Don't want to hear about hypocracy from any democrat. Especially after u c all the hypocratical promisses made to the voters by the current administration....Just wait and c how many jobs have been created, how many people's taxes are increased,how many businesses are eliminated, higher gas and power bills,lower medical costs,and a safer country. HYPOCRACY will b redefined!.??!!!!

    June 28, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. Roscot

    These Republicans are using taxpayer money to get laid, flying thousands of miles on my dime to get a piece...and you have whimpy turds out there speaking NICELY (like fairies) about them, like they are the best people in church...if this country gets any softer, I am going to try to hump it.

    June 28, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Mark

    The last time the Republicand were a fiscally responsible party was the 1950s: Nixon blew the finances apart; Reagan and Bush senior blew the finances apart; and Bush junior was the most financially irresposnsible president in US history. At least Clinton tried to clean the mess up and was more financially reponsible than anyone since Eisenhower. Obama has been left a huge problem by Bush and he has had to salvage the economy before bringing things under control. If the Republiocan's sincerely believe in fiscal responsibiulity they should vote for a 100 billion reduction in defense expenditure. How many would sign their name to that? None.

    June 28, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. Rightsaid

    The GOP has a lot more to answer for than Sanford.

    June 28, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. DawnL,CA

    It's not the cheating(well..., yes it is) it's the hypocrisy, the nerve of these holier-than-thou "family values" statements from these hypocrits that make me grit my teeth. Get off your high-horse GOP & maybe in the next 30 years REAL AMERICANS with REAL lives (not paid for with MY taxes) might-just might start to pay attention to what you have to say. I said might.

    June 28, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. Mark Ramsey MD, Milwaukee WI

    This is not about kicking someone when they are down. This is about right wing zealots who say gays are threatening the institution of marriage while they are out having extramarrital affairs! They are hypocrits and liars!

    June 28, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7