February 12th, 2010
03:44 PM ET
4 years ago

Pawlenty lays blame for GOP failures

Gov. Tim Pawlenty distanced himself from the Bush administration in an interview with Esquire Magazine published Friday.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty distanced himself from the Bush administration in an interview with Esquire Magazine published Friday.

Washington (CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty appears to be distancing himself from the Bush administration and some national Republicans in an Esquire Magazine interview published Friday.

Pawlenty, a Republican and two-term governor, said in the wide-ranging interview that the Republican party "blew it" and "got fired for a reason."

"The Republicans had their shot not long ago to address the real needs and concerns of everyday Americans, and they blew it.... We got fired for a reason," Pawlenty told Esquire. "We just lost our way. You can't say that your hallmark issues are that we're going to control spending, keep taxes low, and make government accountable, and then go to Washington and do the opposite.... Let's face it, when Republicans had total control over it, they didn't do what they said they were gonna do."

Pawlenty told Esquire the difference between rhetoric and action had consequences. "We got our cans kicked – for two election cycles in a row. The marketplace measurement in politics is something called an election. It's a pretty good barometer – it's transparent, it's numerical, it's objective. It gives you a pretty good measure of what your customers think of you. And in 2006 and 2008, the marketplace was telling the Republicans, 'We prefer the products and services of your competitors.'"

Pawlenty also spoke out about "name-calling" when asked if he thought President Obama is a socialist.

"You know, I don't think name-calling is helpful. I've done my share of that, so I'm not Pollyannaish about how the political process works," he said. "But as a general proposition, I think these are serious times, the country's in significant danger, and I think we need people who are thoughtful. We're gonna have sharp differences, but we need to debate those in a way that's constructive and civil. I think President Obama is governing as a movement liberal. I don't think that rises to the level of being a socialist."

Pawlenty announced last summer that he would not seek a third term as governor, feuling speculation that he will make a bid for the White House.

Pawlenty made trips to primary states New Hampshire and Iowa late last year and has attended several high-profile Republican Party events across the country.


Filed under: 2012 • GOP • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. D.U.T.C.H.

    T-Paw, that musy have been the most credible thing i've heard you say thus far.

    February 12, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. D.U.T.C.H.

    P.S. – You're still not presidential material

    February 12, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Oh, please, getta dose of reality!

    So it's Pawlenty as the next entrant into the "I'm-a-Teabag-outsider" beauty pageant, huh? These people are like walking, talking, pandering SNL skits.

    February 12, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  4. Travis

    The competitors products and services are worse.

    February 12, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. Aspen Professor

    Republican Governor Pawlenty told Esquire "the difference between rhetoric and action had consequences."

    Finally!!! A Republican that tells the truth. I am a disgusted registered Republican who finds the current batch of right-wing led idiots in Washington to be nothing more than anti-Obama, anti-change, pro-big business, pro top 1% of taxpayers, off-shore nation building jerks.

    February 12, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. BeverlyNC

    Love it when the Republicans attack each other. It is the ONLY time when they are actually telling the truth,
    Bush was a total disaster. He is responsible for the mess President Obama is brilliantly leading us out of,
    Bush started 2 fraudulent wars that ran our deficit up to what it is and even when Republicans learned the whole Iraq War was a scam, they did not impeach Bush – no integrity there.
    Republicans are doing NOTHING but spending all their time criticizing President Obama instead of doing anything to help fix this mess THEY created.
    Republicans have proven themselves this year to be pro-corporations who send our jobs overseas, pro-insurance who let people die for profit and pro-banks and Wall St by trying again to block legislation to get then re-regulated like they always were before Bush screwed that up too.
    Now Republicans in the House are proposing we eliminate Medicare and privatize Social Security!!!!!
    How more anti-American can these wingnuts get??
    They want NOTHING that helps the working American. Everything is about them and their rich white buddies. It's disgusting!
    NO more Republican elected or re-elected in November. We need to move America forward and help restore the middle class.

    February 12, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Who said the Mayans were wrong?

    That doesnt say much for you Timmy,you bought everything they were selling then.

    February 12, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Fooled Again

    Pawlenty ran around with John McCain and Phil Gramm saying our problems were psychological.........

    February 12, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. suresh

    Shall we give the governor a week before he retracts his statements and claims that he was misquoted. God Rush will speak and the governor will retract.

    February 12, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. some chick

    Finally, we hear the truth that we've known all along.
    I will Never again vote republican......unless the slate
    is wiped clean, but I wont hold my breath for that day.
    We had our chance, and Bush and cronies blew it.
    Now its shovel, sweep, uncover and try to repair this
    disaster that was inflicted on America during the bush years.

    February 12, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. Jim in San Mateo

    For once, just once, I'd love to hear a Republican say they are going to work with Democrats to get the country's business done. All they have done up to now is be the party of no. No working together, no solving problems, no solutions, nuthin but no.

    Pawlenty hasn't said anything about what he would do to move the country forward except the tired old themes of lower taxes and less government, but without saying how saying how he would do that.

    Reminds me of Aesop's Fable: Belling the Cat. Moral of the story: It's easy to propose impossible remedies.

    Until someone figures out how to get congress to quit squabbling like a bunch of spoiled children, not much is going to get done by either party.

    Personally, I'm getting to the point of throwing all the incumbents out, Democrat and Republican. If you can't grow up and play nice with each other, it's time to get new representatives.

    February 12, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. Modern Moderate

    Looks like his strategy is to run for the middle, this way he can be Sarah Palin's running mate in the 2012 election. When Palin/Pawlenty goes down in flames, he's all set to run in 2016, when his opponent will be Hilary Clinton.
    You can't stand out of the GOP field as a social conservative anymore, because Huckabee and Palin monopolized that one. As a business conservative, Romney's got it covered, but since he's a Mormon, the social conservatives won't get through their bigotry to vote for him. That, and Romney created a pretty successful state mandated healthcare system that was pretty much plagiarized by Obama for Obamacare, so social conservatives will never forgive him for that.
    So Pawlenty has the fact that he's from a deep blue state, is fairly conservative socially, and doesn't scare business conservatives with an endless discussion of Jesus and how much he hates Obama. He'd make a great candidate for the 2016 election, assuming the Dems run Clinton instead of Vice President Gaff-o-matic.

    February 12, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. inofritzn

    Agreed. Now we're realizing the competitors we put in office are of the same dysfunctional breed. So we'll elect Repubs again so they can screw us over. Rinse and repeat.

    February 12, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  14. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    First sensible comment I've heard from a Republican–aside from Ron-Paul-Republicans–in a while.

    February 12, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. GI Joe

    Uh Oh – he'll be begging forgiveness from King Rush and Queen Sara by next week.

    February 12, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  16. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    Did someone b!t@h slap some sense into this Red?

    He actually came as close as I have ever heard a con publicly state this mess is due to fighting 2 wars, cutting taxes and changing Glass-Stegall courtesy of Phil (American whiners) Gramm!

    No worries Dems, Lush will take him to woodshed and kick that sense right out again!

    February 12, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. notfooledbydistractions

    "...the Republican party "blew it" and "got fired for a reason."

    Do ya' think?

    Orchestrating the largest shift in income equality in history. Starting 2 unfunded wars. Giving unfunded tax cuts to the wealthiest 1%. And the unfunded medicare drug benefit. All piled directly on top of the deficit. And they have the audacity to claim that they're "fiscally conservative"?

    It's the greatest conservative myth in history. Everyone should laugh directly in their faces whenever a republican claims to be fiscally conservative.

    Unbridled and shameless hypocrisy.

    February 12, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. Steve (the real one)

    I will say this about BOTH parties! They promise the moon as candidates. Once they win and get in they turn around and shoot us the MOON! BOTH parties!! The governor is correct! He gets credit for even addressing this!

    Dutch...Exactly who is Presidential material? Obama was a functional Senator for less than a year! Does that count? Pawlenty is a sitting 2 term governor actually running a budget, does that count? What counts for you, experience or party? It is said no one has Presidential experience except for Presidents! No Governor, Senator, or Congressman fits that bill but it does not stop us from electing them. We elect people based upon promise! Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doen't! BOTH PARTIES!

    February 12, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. Modern Moderate

    Hey, Beverly:
    For Republicans to want the elimination of Medicare and Social Security would be getting back to their roots. If they're serious about deficit reduction, they should be looking at where the money goes–that vast, vast money pit that is the elderly.
    Considering that not even the great Reagan could do that, I don't think they have a prayer. Their real concern about nationalized health care should be a historic one: Americans are closet socialists. When we first sip from the kool aid, we're addicted. Every socialist program we've ever adopted (i.e. Social Security, Medicare) has proven itself ridiculously popular only a short time later. Obamacare, like Romneycare before it, when it finally takes off, will be impossible to destroy only a year or so after the ink dries.

    February 12, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Felonious Monk

    republicans have never addressed the issues of "Americans." They have, however, always without fail addressed the issues of American business.
    Republican/conservatives have thrown the American people under the bus so many times it is unbelievable.

    Republican core values are corruption, deficit spending,
    treason and never about family values...prove me wrong.

    February 12, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Who said the Mayans were wrong?

    Timmy,everyone in the know is retiring with their cash in the bag cause they believe the Mayans were right and want to finally spend some of it.

    February 12, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. Conserve America!!!

    Any Republican who doesn't want to privatize Social(ist) Security or end Medicare is a RINO. It's not my fault that you didn't save for retirement! Why should my taxes pay for your healthcare? Get back to work! That's what WalMart's for.

    February 12, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. notfooledbydistractions

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before Tim, and yet the republican party continues to screw the American public with the same old nonsense.

    How about you rebuild the partys credibility by helping to clean up the disasterous mess the republican administration created? How about instead of obstructing your party does something to rectify the situation their ideology and actions created. The partys credibility has been destroyed, and the only ones that haven't realized that just saying no isn't cutting it is the republicans.

    February 12, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    He's still got the equivalent of polenta between his ears. Besides, Minnesota elected Bachman, Queen of the Lunatic Fringe. What does that really say about this pandering ape?

    February 12, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. brad

    Sad thing is that we are paying for it dearly.

    February 12, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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