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. Squealy

    Well, if that isn't the most intelligent thing I have heard out of a Republican in ages, I don't know what is. He is right on every count..

    February 12, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. L for Legend

    Wow, a repug who speaks the truth, amazing. I wonder if his message will resonate to the t-bags and Mikey Steele.

    February 12, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Aaaaaand, Reagan just pooped his casket.

    February 12, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    @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."

    Until they lost their sixtieth seat in the Senate, the Democrats had been the party of "my way or the highway." It was impossible to work with them in any sense other than complete acquiescence to their latest plan to waste more huge gobs of taxpayer money. They didn't want Republicans to work with them, they wanted Republicans to work for them.

    I'm no Repub, but this constant refrain about "the party of no" is just propaganda. What the Dems wanted from the GOP was the party of "Yes, Sir! Right away, Sir!" and have been pouting about not getting it.

    When what the other side wants is insane, irresponsible, or idiotic, the right answer is "no."

    February 12, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Tim in Minnesota

    As a Minnesota governor, Mr. Pawlenty ranks just a bit above Jesse Ventura wihout the humor. He was most defintely a Bush Republican by providing tax cuts to the wealthy without paying for them in addition to increasing low to middle-income familiy taxes by calling them fees. Neither of his two campaigns garnered more than 48% of the vote due to the fact that we have a fairly strong Independent base. I wouldn't believe anything htis guy says. I'm only glad that he won't be our governor anymore. Good riddance.

    February 12, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Boy oh boy, someone's sure angling for the "Independent" votes. Next time, don't interview Polenta...he'll just say what he's been programmed to say when you pull his string. Interview his advisors and ask them why they have programmed him to say this so we can hear them explain that he doesn't mean a word of it, it's just a convenient way to pander to the "Independents."

    February 12, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Gil Oberdas

    While I can't stand Pawlenty or the GOP I think he is making a mistake now to attack bush and the Party Of "no!" It will ruin his chance to run in 2012, which we all know he is thinking seriously about!

    February 12, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. Sgt. USMC

    Jim in San Mateo is right... the Republicans have not once said they will work with the Democrats to fix the country. Is T-Paw, as D.U.T.C.H. calls him, any better for blaming his own party? Changing the direction doesn't change the fact that you are still pointing the finger. And still, no solution to the problem. If you are being sincere T-Paw, then make it a point to encourage your party to fix the biggest problem in Washington, which is the lack of cooperation from the right. Let's work together for a better America!

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

    End Socialist Security! End Medicare! End Welfare! Privatize the military! Only then can we enjoy true freedom.

    February 12, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. Reagan raised taxes and tripled the debt.

    Tim,Reagan loved using his credit card and leaving the bill for dems to pay.

    February 12, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. WILLARD BULLOCK

    I will not trust on democrat cause obama have too much problems
    Thanks you

    February 12, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. Tim, I'd look out for buses if I were you.

    "And in 2006 and 2008, the marketplace was telling the Republicans, 'We prefer the products and services of your competitors"

    And in 2010, you have the same old products and services in a shiny new package.

    February 12, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. mike

    you have Pawlenty of crap to feed the american public just keep on
    trying maybe they will let you be Palins vise president

    February 12, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. Felonious Monk

    Who wants to bet the Senators and Representatives will never vote themselves out of a job?

    Term limits, wakey, wakey....

    February 12, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Slappy White

    Trouble is, Republicans are on the verge of blowing it even worse right now by risking being seen as the party that sat back on their fat keesters and chuckled while a president tried to repair the damage his predecessors left behind..

    February 12, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. henry

    Since CNN decided to close the comments on the "poll" story, I guess we'll continue it here.

    Just go back and add up the numbers:

    There's at least 16% that didn't fall into one of the categories. And 10% who said it's everybody's fault. That meas there are 26% who don't know who to blame.

    And, looking at it, we also see that 31% blame Bush, while 40% blame Obama/Wall Street/Congress.

    Yep, real decisive answers...

    February 12, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. charlie

    The parties are not supposed to be competing to see who gets to provide services to the country. It's not a producer-consumer relationship. The Republicans, even though they are in the minority, have a responsibility to be a LOYAL opposition, just as the Democrats were a few years back.

    Right after Obama was sworn in, the Republicans lined up to say that they wanted him to fail. And when the RNC chair Steele said that such comments (by Limbaugh at the time) were not helpful, he was forced to apologize - to a radio talk-show host??!!??

    So, I am afraid that I will interpret everything that every Republican says for the time being as some variation on that theme - even the words of Pawlenty. He still puts ideology above practicality. As far as I can tell and contrary to his claim, the Republicans never strayed far from their ideals in that period from 1996 to 2008. And those ideals, coupled with their smug self-righteousness and demonizing anyone who disagreed, got us into this mess. That's the problem, and that's why it will be a long, long time before I vote for a Republican at any government level.

    February 12, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. Jim in San Mateo is right

    Henry Miller, Libertarian February 12th, 2010 4:17 pm ET

    Until they lost their sixtieth seat in the Senate, the Democrats had been the party of "my way or the highway." It was impossible to work with them in any sense other than complete acquiescence to their latest plan to waste more huge gobs of taxpayer money. They didn't want Republicans to work with them, they wanted Republicans to work for them.

    How do you explain Republicans voting against bills that they themselves proposed just because Obama endorsed them? How do you explain Republican unanimously bashing the stimulus, and then crawling all over each other to get their hands on the money, having ribbon cutting and ground breaking ceremonies, while at the same time publicly decrying that the "stimulus isn't working"? How do you explain the Republicans crying because their ideas on health care reform are not listened to, when many of their ideas have been incorporated in to current bill already? They are a bunch of bedwetting crybabies, and they need to do a little research on what minority party and compromise means

    February 12, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Mike in MN

    Pawlenty is right. Republicans lost their way during the Bush years. That is one big reason why a lot of conservatives who once called themselves Republicans are now independents. But Republicans are showing some positive signs that they are finding their way back. The so called failed Bush policies are not the policies of true conservative Republicans, especially the fisical policies. The Republicans challange is to convince voters, both conservatives and independents that the days of Bush are behind them. So far so good.

    February 12, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. Robert

    Okay, now all you Republican apologists who spit fire on the poll showing most Americans still blame Bush... now what do you say? How do you respond to the leading Republican presidential contender who basically agrees?

    The fact is Clinton handed Bush a large surplus. In 8 years, he managed to squander not only that, but run up a 1.3 Trillion dollar debt. Those are the facts.

    I'm tired of reading comments from people ridiculing Obama for reminding everyone of that. If you throw a rock in the air it will fall. If you jump from a building you will fall. If you start two wars, give the wealthiest 1% of Americans a large tax cut and pass an unfunded Trillion dollar medicare bill – the economy will fall.

    I don't blame Obama for reminding everyone of that.

    There will come a time when the performance of the economy will be something Obama has to answer for. As far as I'm concerned, one short year is not time enough yet to blame him.

    February 12, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. let me guess, you like apple pie?

    Wow, the Republicans have climbed so far on a limb that when one of them basically recites what used to be the platform of the Republican Party, half of his fellow R's savage him for it! But then the Democrats go all starry-eyed because he's actually decided to be, y'know, minimally civil. And he probably likes kittens and puppies, too. Pawlenty–meh. Republican party turning on him–epic fail.

    February 12, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Earlier today, someone wrote that in ten years, W will be on Mt. Rushmore. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that will not happen unless they start carving butt cheeks into the rock.

    February 12, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Wisconsonite - Vote for Consumer Protection Regulation of the Financial Industry

    Oooooh watch out, Tim . . . TeaBagger Barbie and her buddies are gonna come gunnin' for you! Seriously though, it's good to hear a Republican who has the balls to same something rational for a change.

    February 12, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. Jane/Seattle

    Hindsight is much better tan foresight! What we need are Visionary Leaders who Will Always Choose Integrity/Ethicscs and and will look far ahead and choose a course of Wisdom. This is plainly Obvious. Once the wrong course is taken for political expediency, one must live with the persoanl results – hence this attempt at "distancing"! Anyone who supports Genocide first and then changes the mind when it becomes convenient IS A Liar! What we need is repentance not gambling that voters might forget what you did now that so many are DEAD!

    February 12, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Oh look another born again Libertarian, sorry the GOP has used that lie a few times before, there is only one true Libertarian in the GOP and his name is Ron Paul.

    February 12, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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