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. Terry in Iowa

    Either you support the Constitution or you don’t. Either you defend it or you won’t.

    1) 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”
    2) We are not nor have we ever been at war with Islam
    3) Terrorist killed, Christians, Jews and yes Muslims on 9/11
    4) The location of the building is not at ground zero, it’s two blocks away.

    If we can’t stand behind the building of a place of fellowship and worship and defend first amendment rights, then Al Qaida has won.

    We must let these people build their mosque to prove that our Constitution really means something.

    Pawlenty is just another unprincipled hate mongering opportunistic coward, just like Palin, Gingrich, etc.

    Either you support the Constitution or you don’t. Either you defend it or you won’t.

    August 17, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Elliott

    For crying out loud. When are these Republican thugs going to suggest we lock up all American Muslims in this country the same way locked up Japanese American citizens during WWII?

    This is a constitutional right. You can't just ignore those rights when you feel like it.

    August 17, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Rani McBride

    And how would YOU grow the economy and Lighten the burden. Give us your ideas, not just your blind critisism!!!! You are going to run for president, we got that now!

    August 17, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. Jim

    This guy is a nobody in the polls. He'll say just about anything right now if he thinks it will get him name recognition.

    I'm also amused by the idea that another mosque shouldn't be built in NYC on the grounds that it isn't "respectful", despite the law being quite clear that there is nothing legal wrong with it. I guess in Pawlenty's view, the law is secondary to his own "common sense".

    August 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. RealMN

    Considering the mess that Minnesota is in, Pawlenty might want to keep his opinions to himself. Putting a guy that can't even manage a state into the presidency is absolutely clueless.

    August 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. Fair is Fair

    "Clueless" sums it up well.

    Even more clueless are the sheep who blindly follow this clown in the hopes that they'll get yet another handout. Pathetic.

    August 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. TheDude

    Tim Pawlenty commenting on budget and economy? That's laughable considering he created a $6B budget deficit with his spending plan here in MN. Linda McMahon has a better shot at the GOP primary than he does.

    August 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Wake up America

    Well said, Pawlenty. Now the big question is....

    How will CNN cover for obama now? Next on the CNN agenda...
    1. show stories of what life is like for Muslims in America. This will help obama look compassionate.
    2. exaggerate any glimmer of economic hope.
    3. show success in the gulf.
    4. talk about how bad our current health care is.
    5. show case corporations are all evil.
    6. hide actual news about deaths in iraq, hidden taxes that will cripple us soon.
    There is CNN's play book for the week.

    August 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. water bearer

    Ha – ha – ha – ha . . .TimPaw called President Obama clueless????? Now THAT'S irony at it's best!

    August 17, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. R

    If Obama is clueless about the economy, then I wonder what that would Pawlenty would say about G.W. Bush – would he have been comatose about the economy? as literate as a 3 year old when it comes to the economy? Perhaps he would consider the man a wonderful economist and mathematician. Considering: Cheney energy task force polcy + no-bid Halliburton contracts + irreversible tax cuts + the Al Qaeda/Pakistan "support" in Afghanistan + Poppy's war in Iraq.

    Hmmm...Seems like Bush left a nice paper trail of his conscious and excellent handling of the economy.

    August 17, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Carl

    I completely agree. Businesses aren't hiring for the same reason. They have no idea what Obama's going to do next! The businesses can't make plans under this type of environment.

    August 17, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. AEK

    Again, another Republican "leader" standing up to criticize the President without ANY mention of an alternative plan. Between Newt, the quitter Palin and this clown, I don't know who is the biggest hypocrite. In reality though, probably too close to call!

    August 17, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. onlysanetexanleft

    "It's another example of him playing law professor," said Pawlenty.

    So for months we've seen teabaggers and elected republican officials yell about how we should "uphold" the Constitution. Now, as is the case with the 14th amendment, these same people don't like the Constitution, they yell at the President about upholding the Constitution. Wow CNN, as blatenly hypocritical these people are I can't believe you don't challenge them on this.

    August 17, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Rennee' Hernandez

    Well Pawlenty and the GOP should know clueless after 8 years of the Bush administration.

    August 17, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. Doug

    Another GOP member who doesn't respect people and calls then name. I use to vote GOP, first step to get be back is to get to some manners.

    August 17, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Jon in Rochester NY

    The presidents job is to protect the constitution. The constitution protects freedom of religion. He has said that they have the right to build the Islamic center but he has not said that they should.

    This Islamic center isn't being built on "ground zero" but blocks away. The way the media covers this, you would think that they scrapped the Freedom tower for building a mosque. This is such a non-isssue when there are so many more important things that should be dealt with at this point. The Republicans can't offer any real solutions so they have to try to score points on hot button emotional issues. As for the Tea Party, they only want to defend the constitution when it suits them.

    August 17, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. hypocricnnation

    Captain Hook Nose Has Come Out Of The Galley To Run His Pie Hole! If Only Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty Bothered To Take The Time And Read His Latest Poll Numbers In Iowa, He'd Realize (And So Would HypocriCNN!) That He Has Work He Needs To Get Done There Before He Dares Take Cheap Shots At President Obama. Perhaps He's Realizing That He Sucks And Has No Credible Chance Of Ever Being President Except To Stew In Disbelief And Be Angry At The Current President For His Own Ignorance And Shortcomings.

    August 17, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. mims

    ok i get it..we need to grow economy, but no one is saying how?
    How are they going to grow economy? How are they going to create jobs?

    August 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. Spence40

    I don't know where the Governor gets his ideas from but here is a short list of really big Boo-Boos By the President:
    1-The photo op of Air Force One flying low over New York with a couple of jets behind it.
    2-The decision to try the 911 perp's near the scene of thweir triumph.
    3-Now this on the Mosque.
    Again-Where Pawlenty gets his opinions from is hard to drive...

    August 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. commonsense529

    Are you kidding me? Pawlenty? PAWLENTY? Let's get real folks. President Obama has done waayyy more than he is getting credit for and I can't wait for him to be RE-ELECTED 2012. While he's getting things DONE, republicans are busy throwing rocks and trying to slow him down with their political agendas. But just look at him..he's stands tall and continues to handle his business. Those of us who see through all the BS are proud of our president.

    August 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. Larry

    Gawd, that's funny. Pawlenty glip flops on issues as much as McCain but Obama is clueless.

    You're a joke Pawlenty.

    August 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  22. Davis, Southlake, TX

    It amazes me how republicans can take pot shots at President Obama for actually trying to accomplish tasks while they all sit on the sideline and disagree. Obama was right this is American and people have a right to build a mosque where they choose. However, I feel there should be a more sensitive approach to the location. I don't see anyone saying a Catholic church shouldn't be built near Ground Zero because Timothy McVeigh was raised a Catholic and was given his last rites as a Catholic–contrary to the belief he was an Atheists.

    August 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. armass

    Obama has kept us from going into another great depression. The problems were caused directly by Republican policies that let wealthy and powerful businesses do whatever they wanted. Going back to those policies will certainly continue to erode the quality of life of the middle class. Pawlenty is either clueless or in the tank for big business. Obama should be considered a hero for at least stopping the complete disaster we were heading for. The Republicans cannot fix the problems with the same "solutions" that caused the problems.

    August 17, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  24. Curt

    Pawlenty is trying desperately to get attention. He is like a child acting up to get everyone to look at him. Shameful!

    August 17, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  25. Mike A.

    I find the comments interesting, but I'm a little annoyed that CNN legitimized the Hannity show by citing it as the source (why not just mention his comments as coming from Fox News?).

    August 17, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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