September 4th, 2009
03:11 PM ET
5 years ago

Pawlently takes aim at Obama's address to students

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty criticized President Obama's scheduled address to public school children.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty criticized President Obama's scheduled address to public school children.

(CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is adding his voice to the growing conservative chorus criticizing President Obama's scheduled address to public school children next week.

Pawlenty, who since announcing he was not seeking a third term as governor earlier this summer has stepped up his criticism of the president, said Friday the classroom is no place to show a video address from Obama.

"At a minimum it's disruptive, number two, it's uninvited and number three, if people would like to hear his message they can, on a voluntary basis, go to YouTube or some other source and get it. I don't think he needs to force it upon the nation's school children," he told reporters at the Minnesota State fair.

The governor also objected to the Department of Education's initial encouragement of school children to write the president with their thoughts on what they can do to help him. Amid criticism, the proposal was dropped.

"There are going to be questions about - well, what are they are going to do with those names and is that for the purpose of a mailing list?" Pawlenty said.

The Democratic National Committee called the comments 'outrageous.'

Pawlenty's remarks are the latest in a series of critical comments the governor has directed at Obama over the last few months, as he begins to take a more visible role in his party in advance of a possible White House bid.

"It is time we stand up to President Obama," Pawlenty said to members of the Republican National Committee last month, one of several speaking engagements at GOP and conservative-backed events. "It is time we stand up for our principles, and it is time we stand up for the American people."

Last month, Pawlenty was also keynote speaker at a major dinner hosted by the Republican Party of Florida. In July, he addressed top party members at a Republican National Committee conference in San Diego. Next month, the governor heads back to California, as a featured speaker at the Western Conservative Political Action Conference.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, thought to be another potential White House hopeful, issues a more measured statement to Obama's planned address.

"If the president wants to encourage students to stay in school and study, that's appropriate," he said. "However, he should be careful not to cross the line to discuss political issues or policy matters."


Filed under: Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. disgusted

    Oh, please give me a break. I am sick of this garbage and this pouncing on everything.

    September 4, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Farrell in Houston

    This isn't about our President speaking to the nations' children, it's about the Republicans, who have no solutions, going after our President. On 9/11 former President Bush was sitting in a classroom reading a book to children and guess what, he kept reading.

    September 4, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. F-Dog

    Telling kids to take some personal responsibility for their education and work hard is a problem? What is wrong with these nutters?

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  4. Michael

    I'm sorry, but Obama is the President Of The United States. If he wants to start the school year off by inspiring youth and speaking about education-related issues, let him! He lets "tea parties" run amock and uneducated and false rumors regarding health care reform run rampant throughout the internet. Maybe if we allowed him to lead more instead of acting like ignorant teenagers threatening to run away from home if we don't get our way, things might begin to look a little better.

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. TxVet

    To Darko: you mean like the time when George Bush spoke to students? Or when George W. Bush spoke to students? Do you think that should have been disallowed?

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. fonzlord

    Why do Republicans hate America so much?

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. Gabriel

    It is really unfortunate that this governor is trying to keep this country divided. What are you telling our children when you say, (you dont need to listen to that man). After all he is the President of the United States. What next? Will we be telling our children they dont need to listen to their teachers who want them to do well? " What better man to motivate our children than the President? This should not even be a debate. So unfortunate.

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. J Haigh

    Republicans – what a bunch of distasteful, evil, self-serving hypocrites! They have watched the United States go into a tailspin for the last eight years and done nothing. Now, that they have been kick-assed out of power, all they can do is whine and cry. Get a life you worthless traitors!!

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. JD

    Let's get real here, people. Liberals would have had an absolute fit if President Bush planned to have a compulsory attendance meeting for all schoolkids followed by projects in which the children had to write essays entitled, "How I can help President Bush."

    Considering this simple and obvious reality, I think it's about time that the liberals took their own medicine and acknowledge that dissent is patriotic.

    I mean, hey, they insisted it was patriotic when Bush was president, right?

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. Repubs hate everything

    Repubs are like Mikey-They HATE EVERYTHING.

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. Ron

    He's the president. Thats all that should matter. Nobody batted an eye when Reagan wanted to address the students. He was the president and regardless of his politics he was given the respect that that office deserves.
    But if republicans would like to go down this road and set this precedent then wait til next time a republican president is in office

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. ONE MAD AMERICAN

    I am so pissed and the darn republican let us just call a spade a spade. This is far beyond the republicans and the democrats this is a black and white issue. They don't want a black man telling them what to do; and that is what it all boils down to. This is not new! Blacks and Latinos, and other minorities have dealt with things like this in the 30's 40's, 50's, and 60’s and beyond. You know it wasn’t to long ago that people like Tim Pawlenty were afraid for minorities to go to school with their children and eat with their children or even play with their children.

    How exactly will the children be brainwashed? 90 percent of those children will not be eligible to vote during President Obama’s run.. so what is all the fuss about. Will minorities have to start fearing for their lives now that the republicans have re introduced HATE at an alarming rate in American?

    Oh, non-minorities don’t fear to live in America it’s the minorities that have something to fear again because of people like Tim Pawlenty.

    September 4, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. Wise Latina

    Where is CNN and other state-controlled media's coverage of the two biggest stories after healthcare: 1) House Ways & Means Chairman Rangels' blatant and deliberate tax evasion (which should lead to jail time); and 2) White House Czar Van Jones' shocking communist and racial statements (which should lead to his immediate removal)??? The silence in deafening!

    September 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. Mo

    Its official, republicans are crazy.

    September 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. JDM

    Crazy People!
    Bush- We can not cut and run, we must win for 9/11. GOOD
    Obama- We must leave now for 9/11. BAD
    Bush- No child left behind law. GOOD
    Obama- Read to children BAD
    Bush give money to banks. GOOD
    Obama give money to banks. BAD
    Bush hide war money off the books. GOOD
    Obama put war money on the books. BAD
    What???

    September 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Former Republican from Orange

    Pawlenty is the GREAT WHITE HOPE right now. Too bad the Republicans are using race to gain power. Too bad for the rest of us.

    September 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. Mike in SA

    CNN's reporting on this is days late and frankly pathetic. The uproar was not so much about the planned speech (although an hour seems awfully long for a 5 year-old's attention span), but rather the post-speech "lesson plan" recommended by the Department of Education who interestingly broke protocol by skipping state and local administrators in sending the "lesson plan" directly to the NEA and AFT motivated school administrators. The "lesson plans" included having pre-K to 6th graders "write a letter to themselves about what they can do to help the president" and to have teachers "build background knowledge about the president of the United States by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama", etc. Sounds kind of Kim Jong Obama-ish.

    September 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. Kim

    so dumb.......

    nothing here....move along children

    September 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Nate, Oly WA

    People need to research the word "Socialism". Makes you look foolish throwing it at everything he does.

    September 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  20. Texico

    Oh, so its ok for both Bush's and Ronald Regan to do this? When I was in High School we had to wacth that moron Regan speak to us in school. The bottom line is this: The conservaties do not want a liberal black man speaking to their children period!

    September 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. Susie Que

    Pawlenty is typical of what we're continuing to see representing the Republican Party and it is a disgrace and disrespectful to our country and to our President.
    If this were a Republican president, and this type of response was voiced by Democrats, they would be accused of being unpatriotic and a traitor to our government and country.
    The far right of the Republican party has a deep hatred for the current administration and they are intent on seeing Obama fail.
    Addressing school children on the importance of continuing their education is an admiral undertaking.
    This disruptive and destructive behavior from Pawlenty and others, is unfortunate for our country and our children who will be our future.

    September 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. Marilyn in Arizona

    Our President is trying to encourage children to stay in school and study hard. I would expect my President to do that. Obviously, Mr. Pawlenty has decided to take the low road to the nomination – he should rethink that – I amazes me that these guys are simply going to continue down the same path that got them where they are to begin with, out. I as an American, wife of a heroic soldier, daughter of an heroic soldier and mother of a heroic soldier I would like to see a little substance come from this bunch of morons. At the very least, Obama takes his committment to his word and to this country seriously. This is about AMERICA, not one stinking party or the other, hasn't the last year been enough of a wake up call? What ideas do you have Tim?

    September 4, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. T'SAH from Virginia

    PAWLENTY SAYS: "It is time we stand up for our principles, and it is time we stand up for the American people."

    What American People?????? Me? Is he speaking for ME?? I don't think so.

    What PRINCIPLES – My principles?????? Is he speaking about MY Principles???

    The REPUBS cannot speak about all of the AMERICANS because they do not represent ALL OF THE AMERICANS – Actually, they do not represent too many Americans, which is why we have the current out roar coming from them – Inciting Town Hall Meetings; carrying GUNS; threatening about Seceding from the Nation; PREACHING about killing President Obama – and getting away with it...

    Naw, don't speak to me about PRINCIPLES and about being part of your AMERICAN PEOPLE!!!!

    September 4, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. Dan

    You conservatives need a new scarey word. "Socialist" is seriously last week.

    Does it matter to NONE of you that officials of the American Socialist Party has gone ON RECORD saying Obama's policy are NOT socialism.

    No, just keep spouting the same WRONG information in hopes of scaring your non-critical-thinking base.

    You have no hope in the midterm elections if you keep up this crap. Remember at the least you need a fair portion of the Independent vote and this is not the way to get it. Those people DO think.

    September 4, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. Wanderer

    Can school choose not to turn on the TV, radio, or other communication devices? They have the right to choose whether they want to watch or listen to Obama, don’t they? Why the GPOs are afraid of his speech? People came to my door attempting to spread their religions. I have never been afraid to greet them with a smile, but I remain to be atheist.

    September 4, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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