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. RightasRain

    By all means, let's alter the Constitution whenever its put to test.

    August 17, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. throw the bums out

    Idiot!

    No ideas, but Pawlenty of criticism. Typical GOPer.

    August 17, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Monty

    If the GOP's who want to take Obama's job as prez then they need to clean up their house and fast. I think he is doing a good job without the GOP's NO manners. Just think what the prez is facing and still trying to walk and talk to help this country while the GOP's just poke,make fun and talk smack about things that should matter to the people of this country.

    The mosque is only a few blocks from ground zero, so what is the problem. The governor and all the real estate people took his money to build this mosque so why is it Obama's fault now that the money is paid and the buidling is granted.

    People do you home work first and stop blaming everything on the prez. He did not let them buy the building or tell them how to build and what to do with this building. And if this wing-nut become prez then we all would be in worst shape than when Bush was in office.

    August 17, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

    RESURRECTION ANGLICAN CHURCH – is a Christian church in Hiroshima; where Christians flying a plane called Enola Gay incinerated 100,000 civilians with a Nuclear WMD. At least another 50,000 died within weeks of radiation poisoning and one can only estimate the number of cancer and birth defects that resulted. Is this church an insult to those innocents who perished. Or is it like any other house of God, a doorway to the source of Peace.

    August 17, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. jules sand-perkins

    Govenor Pawlenty understands President Obama's weaknesses and illuminates them elegantly.
    Now we need to see Govenor Pawlenty's potential strengths as president.

    August 17, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. rosaadriana

    Clueless? Isn't Pawlenty one of the guys that brought us the bridge disaster in MN by cutting public funds so that the uber rich could get a few buck back on their taxes?

    August 17, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Pawlenty is right that Obama is "clueless" about much of the job of being President. He seems to think that it's mostly a matter of dictating to the American people what they ought to want–and forcing it on them even if they don't want it. His grasp of economics is both rudimentary and decades obsolete, but he is nevertheless perfectly willing to impose his amateurish, ignorant, vision of the American economy on the country. He's technically right about that Islamic centre, but it was just plain idiotic to make his Presidential opinion public.

    August 17, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. beth

    and his solutions are? i'm willing to listen to solutions. name calling and bad-mouthing is not offering any alternatives. please tell me how you would have cleaned up the mess he inherited...oh that's right, just tell people how bad the other team is and things will fix themselves.

    August 17, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  9. Donald, North Carolina

    Take a look in the mirror and you will truly see who is really "CLUELESS" about this country and the party you represent.

    Quit hiding behind populist soundbites and outright lies!

    As an elected official of a state you are truly disgusting doing anything for political gain.

    August 17, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. stephen p. johnson

    Ahhh this coming from repubelican tim pawlenty. the repubelicans should not throw stone from their glass houses. our nation does not want to go back to repubelican politics...of which got us into this economic mess. go drool somewhere else pawlenty!!!

    August 17, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. blr

    Pawlenty has it 100% right

    August 17, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. Kevin

    Actually, its the GOP and its hate mongerers who are clueless. They know absolutely nothing about Islam and its various factions and sects.
    Its another shining example of poor American education and ignorance.
    Blaming the group that wants to build the mosque in NYC for 9/11 is like blaming a small Baptist chuch in Mississippi for a bombing in Northern Ireland.- It completely ignores the facts of the situation.

    It also completely ignores the fact that this New Yorks Muslim community actually lost 28 members in the terrorist attack (26 office workers and 2 firefighters)

    I also find it ironic that the party that champions "land-owner rights" suddeny changes its tune when the land owner happens to be a politically useful as a target.

    August 17, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. Zombie Jesus

    Yup, how dare the President of the United States uphold the Constitution in the face of terrrorism.

    I mean, aren't we supposed to cower back in fear at terrorsim and change our way of life based on their actions?

    Don't you know you're supposed to cave-in, tweak the Constitution and provide greater security at the cost of personal freedom?

    Trade freedom for security, that way you don't have to fight or struggle for freedom, you can just have the government nurture you and take care of you, like a good parent.

    Vote Republican if you want the Constitution changed, less freedom but hey, no muslim community center near WTC, woo-hoo.

    Looking forward to a Republican President and The Patriot Act v2.0: now more intrusive than ever.

    August 17, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. dwech

    And "President Pawlenty" would spend his time making decisions about local zoning and building permits, instead of following the law? No gun stores in Littleton (Columbine High), no Korean churches in Blacksburg (VT shootings), no BP gas stations in Louisiana... the list goes on. Despite this politician's KISS 'message' (Keep It Simplistic, Stupid), the world, and this country, are a bit more complicated. Obama made the right call here, recognizing the legal right of property owners to construct what they want according to controlling law, didn't overstep his authority, and at the same time, recognized the symbolism will trigger the kind of reaction it has... from people who see things more narrowly than our Constitution.

    August 17, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. The Truth Hurts

    I AM HONORED TO HAVE BARACK OBAMA AS MY PRESIDENT. He has only spoken the truth and has the collective interest of all of Americas citizens at heart. It is so shocking to the GOP that the only thing they do is resort back to the divisive ways of their past. One would have to be an IDIOT to think that anything but the 'root of all evil (money)' is and has ALWAYS been the movtivation of these (about 90% of them) hypocritical bunch of bigots. Your God, that you claim to to have so much faith in does not like ugly not matter how you try to disguise it!

    August 17, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. Eric

    Clueless is an understatement.

    It's the economy stupid!

    August 17, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Minnesotan

    I would like to point out that "Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty – a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2012...." only got 1% of the votes in the latest Iowa preliminary poll. He doesn't have any credibility here in Minnesota, and apparently, anywhere else.....

    August 17, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. ABM

    Once again – a critic with NO plan to offer. He goes onto Fox "News" and takes softball questions to sound intelligent. Tell you what...state your plan in detail then I will listen to what you can bring to the table. All this is talk. Talk is cheap. Come up with and detailed plan on paper then you can talk.

    Help the country instead of tearing it down. This is getting childish and you will NOT get my vote at all.

    August 17, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. Mathew

    It's amusing to see how Republicans claim to know more about the economy when their actions (deregulation, launching two wars without funding, tax cuts for the rich, etc.) helped get us into this economic mess.

    As for the mosque issue, why does Obama lack common sense? While he questioned the wisdom of it, he upheld the Constitution of the United States (which he took an oath to defend). What's lacking in common sense?

    Funny how Republicans claim they are for protecting the Constitution but conveniently forget it when it comes to non-Christians, homosexuals, and minorities.

    August 17, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. Timus, Powder Springs, GA

    Republicans!!! Where are the solutions? It's easy to complain and whine and criticize but where are the solutions? At least Newt G had a contract of all the things he would do. Where is yours?

    August 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  21. Barbara

    Talk about Clueless. Pawlenty leads the pack....and where are all the tea partiers that are shouting about protecting the constitution. The President is correct on this matter of equality of religion and there is nothing confusing about his remarks. Dowd needs to go back to school if she finds these remarks confusing.

    August 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  22. Tim

    Pawlenty's definition of "common sense" seems to be "opinions that are identical to mine."

    August 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. Pete

    Common sense says that unless you can prove that any of the people who are in the congregation that will use this mosque had anything at all to with 9/11 then they shouldn't be expected to waive their Constitutional rights as a form of collective punishment.

    August 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  24. Mike

    You rock Tim, good luck with your career!

    August 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  25. QC

    How are we even having this conversation?...Yes..people in America have the right to practice whatever religion they choose, however they choose to do so...but when do we draw a line between political correctness and tact. This is a slap in the face to America anyway you look at it, and it will provide fodder for our enemies..giving them reassurance that their "cause" is finding its way into the heart of America.

    August 17, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
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