August 17th, 2010
03:04 PM ET
4 years ago

Pawlenty calls Obama 'clueless,' says prez decision next year

 Pawlenty, who recently traveled to the famed Iowa State Fair, is getting tough on President Obama.
Pawlenty, who recently traveled to the famed Iowa State Fair, is getting tough on President Obama.

(Updated with latest Pawlenty comments)

(CNN) – Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty - a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2012 - is stepping up his rhetoric against President Obama, saying the commander-in-chief is "clueless" when it comes to the economy and lacks common sense on the controversial mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero.

The two-term governor, long thought to be eyeing the White House, also said a decision about his political future will come early next year.

"First of all he is clueless on a number of key issues on our time, including our economy," Pawlenty said of the president on Fox News' "Hannity" program on Monday. "We need to be growing this economy, lightening the burden for…the people that can get the economy going. Instead he is layering on burdens. And then, No. 2, he doesn't have the depth of experience to run a large complex organization particularly in a time of crisis and its getting away from him."

The comments, among Pawlenty's most biting to date directed toward Obama, come days after the Minnesota Republican made his fourth visit since last summer to the early-voting state of Iowa in what was the latest in a string of signals he is gearing up for a presidential bid. Pawlently has also hired veteran political consultants, made trips to other key primary states, and donated heavily to GOP candidates across the country as he seeks to build a base of support.

But while Pawlenty is a two-term governor, vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and was on the short list to be Sen. John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential race, public polling shows he trails other well-known Republicans such as Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich in hypothetical 2012 matchups.

Confronting his low name recognition, Pawlenty recently posted a video on his website that offers a biographical snapshot and emphasizes his conservative credentials a full year before the first test in GOP presidential primaries.

On "Hannity," the Minnesota Republican also attacked the president for his recent support of the proposed construction of the Islamic center and mosque blocks away from ground zero.

"It's another example of him playing law professor," said Pawlenty. "This isn't about the technical and hyper-technical legal issues. This isn't about basic decency, judgment, and respect of the appropriate recognition of the crisis that was 9/11… It's about being sensitive, being respectful and having good judgment about not putting a mosque within two blocks of ground zero. Anyone with common sense can see that."

Obama has faced fire from several Republicans for comments he made Friday night saying the issue was a constitutional right. Over the weekend, the president tempered his remarks slightly, telling CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry that he was "not commenting on the wisdom" of the project, just the broader principle that the government should treat "everyone equal, regardless" of religion.

When it comes to Pawlenty's own timeline for his presidential bid, the Minnesota governor said an announcement will come early next year."

Update: Pawlenty Tuesday continued to criticize Obama's decision to support the controversial Islamic center and Mosque, tweeting, "To improve USA's relations with peaceful Muslims, Obama should tout our relief efforts in Pakistan floods; not defend Ground Zero mosque."


Filed under: President Obama • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (286 Responses)
  1. welches, oregon

    is this the new GOP rallying call "Obama is the worst President ever!"?

    August 17, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Gail

    Tim Pawlenty is one to talk. How is your state doing from what I been reading not to well. So who are you to throw stones.

    August 17, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. Brian

    The thing about Rhetoric is that it easy to spew from the mouth of the young dumb and ambitious! I hope this guy gets what he is looking for.

    August 17, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Crazy Harry

    Another Republican loser spouts off with only hate and lies. This is getting boring.

    August 17, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. GI Joe

    He couldn't even run one state without putting it into bankruptcy and having a major interstate bridge collapse because of his selfishness in handling federal road funds. How the He!! does he think he's qualified to run a country, or criticise anyone else.

    T-Paw is an absentee governor and has been for a long time. He won't EVER get my vote.

    August 17, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. ConstitutionalPatriot

    Obummer is clueless and so are you, leave the mosque thing alone, like the President said it's a constitutional right. That means it doesn't matter what Obama or Pawlenty think! If we followed the Constitution strictly like the President is doing in this rare case we would not be in the mess we are! Save the republic and our precious liberties, vote Ron Paul in 2012!

    August 17, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  7. hcharles

    No way this guy can win a Presidential election, but just in case he does, the majority that chooses him will get exactly what they deserve.

    August 17, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  8. Can't We All Just Get Along?

    No, McCain was clueless, Bush was an idiot, Palin is so stupid that she makes Bush look like he belongs in MENSA.

    The GOP is just giving sound bites to a sonambulant public in order to raise fear by telling them lies.

    August 17, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Mr. Wilson

    So let me get this straight. This governor, who is the first governor of Minnesota to end his 8 year reign as governor with fewer people working than when he entered the governor's mansion, who appointed his Lt. Governor to be the head of the Department of Transportion who, in turn, ignored all warnings about the I-35 bridge (which collapsed in August of 2007), and ballooned the state deficit to twice the size it was when he entered office in 2002, thinks the President is clueless?

    August 17, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. The Other Dale

    With this logic, Pawlenty must also feel it was decent to lock up all the Japanese into camps back during World War II as their faces being in public could have offended people who had lost family members during the war.

    As for calling the President clueless – would any Democratic nominee have gotten away with that in the past? Pawlenty certainly shows he has little interest in making America look good. Maybe help out his rich friends, but nothing more. Definitely not presidential material.

    August 17, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. New Clowns

    Two more clowns are on the scene...Quayle and this douche bag! You guys have done nothing but SLAM our president who's an intelligent man and has the country's interest at hart and all you do is SLAM SLAM SLAM...NO SOLUTIONS, NOTHING from your end but hatred and division...i'm sick of republicans more than i have ever been!

    August 17, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  12. Adrienne

    This is a slap in the face to TRUE AMERICANS!!!! Obama will be a one term president!!

    August 17, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  13. terry,va

    Pawlenty is 100% correct. Anyone that doesn't think Obummie is clueless in terms of economic, domestic and foreign policies is clueless themselves. Either that or they have their hands out for his socialist agenda.

    August 17, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. JDO4

    He's not running for president or anything...

    August 17, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  15. Not All Docs Play Golf

    The Republican leadership, and their voters, have been big babies ever since President Obama was elected. They hated him from day one, and they would have reacted the same no matter what he did. Even the creation of the "Tea Party" was just a childish temper-tantrum by the disappointed Sarah Palin voters who hate Obama personally.

    August 17, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Pedro

    Well, Tim, if you believe that saving our collective bacon from a second Great depression as warranting a title of "worst ever" I really have say you are simply not qualified to judge a horse jumping competition, much less be capable of being the next President of the United States.

    Perhaps a little less rhetoric and a few more ideas on how to help America.

    August 17, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. michael

    And we expect any republican running for the presidency to say different? Ha Ha CNN, is there no real news out there today?

    August 17, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. Jim

    If Pawlenty believes that we need to be "lightening the burden" on the financial institutions that are largely responsible for getting us into this mess, it is he who is clueless.

    August 17, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. Roger

    Talk about clueless!!! Gov. Pawlenty needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that is he not only clueless but completely incompetent. I put him only slightly ahead of Sarah Palin on the "not living in the real world" scale! Go back to Minnesota and be quiet!

    August 17, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. sandy

    Yea, like Pawlenty could do better. Give me a break. We have all seen what happens when a Republican is in office and I for one do not want to go back there. I personally think Obama has done a pretty good job what with the mess he wallked into. I've said it before and I will say it again, the Republicans have one agenda and it is not to create jobs, it is to bring down Obama no matter what.

    August 17, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. KathyC in Minnesota

    Tim Pawlenty should talk!! HYPOCRITE!!! We in Minnesota have been wondering where our Governor has been since late 2007!!!

    Pawlenty has NO CLUE as to how Minnesotans are struggling. He has been playoing PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ever since he was John McCain's Campaign Chair during the last election cycle.

    August 17, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. Sue

    The only message the Republicans can run on for the mid term elections and 2010 elections is to run on the Message that Obama is Clueless......well I haven't heard any solutions from the GOP as to how they would get this country moving again except to go back to the same old way of running the country like Bush did...(Breaks for the big corporations, big business, more tax cuts for the rich....more war...and end to Social Security and Medicare.....they are the ones that are clueless.....and in the last poll I read this guy is running with only 1% in the Polls.....so I think this guy is clueless

    August 17, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  23. Tony in Maine

    Projection – seeing your own worst faults in others.

    August 17, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  24. GR

    Pawlenty, have you been asleep since 2000?

    The worst president ever by far was George Bush.

    He more than doubled the national debt from 5 trillion to more than 10 trillion.

    He turned budget surpluses under Clinton into huge budget deficits.

    He never captured or killed those who attacked us. Instead he used 9/11 as cover to start two useless massive wars for profit. Wars that raped the U.S. Treasury to the tune of almost 2 trillion dollars.

    Bush was your worst president ever leaving with office with only 22% approval rating.

    August 17, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  25. me

    Pawlenty? Pawlenty? Wasn't he the governor of my state, Minnesota? Oh, he still is? His name is just about as recognized in Minnesota as it is in Iowa. He's ruined the economy here, depleted funding for some the best public schools in the country and raised taxes or "fees" as he calls them and then leaves a mess of his own creation in his quest to be the Repub nominee. Now, he says the building of an Islamic community center "isn't about basic decency, judgment, aand respect of the appropriate recognition of the crisis that was 9/11… It's about being sensitive, being respectful and having good judgment about not putting a mosque within two blocks of ground zero. Anyone with common sense can see that." His own statement is a contradiction of words. Not about decency or respect but about being sensitive and respectful? He sounds Palin-like. If he doesn't think the POTUS should be commenting, why does he think the Governor of a midwestern state is allowed or even wanted?

    August 17, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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