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. Rick

    The Party of No at it again. Republicans started this mess,they are the one's without a clue.

    August 17, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. Michael

    Thre Republicans drove the economy to it's knees and are full of nonsense. As far as I know America's constitution is about, among other things, religious freedom pilgram. The republicians always want biger government to reduce our freedoms. Where and when will they stop they seem to be clueless about the constution.

    August 17, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. Aaron

    I'm sorry, exactly what number did you place in your Republican Presidential primary last election? Yeah...I thought so. Dude...you are polling behind Palin. Whose clueless now?

    August 17, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. Dave

    So MInnesota was a thriving community. Nope! The republicans grew the economy so much that Obama was left with a surplus. Nope! I'd rather have Obamas clueless, over a republicans. Theres' equal disaster!

    Republicans are a disaster waiting to happen.

    August 17, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. Dennis

    Obama seems to be out of touch with most Americans on the things that matter. He also seems create issues out of minor incidents. For the so called master politician, he seems to be making a lot of misteps lately. He seems to want to be on both sides of the mosque issue.

    August 17, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. Truth Teller

    It's the other way around. The right wing is clueless. Bush was a prime example of that.

    August 17, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  7. kleentx

    Obama is "clueless" on the economy? Is Gov. Pawlenty too young to remember Ronald Reagan and his infamous "Reaganomics?" My husband and I struggled with two young children during Regan's 8-year disaster of a presidency. Now people are complaining about Obama when he simply inherited another 2-term Republican President's economic disaster. Give this guy a break! Does Gov. Pawlenty actually expect that Obama is going to be able to clean up the crap that Bush took 8 years to create in a couple of short years?

    I say to Gov. Pawlenty, shut your pie-hole and just tell folks what YOU plan to do.

    August 17, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  8. d-day

    I'm not a Republican but I believe we all have the right to point out each others mistakes. If you are going to spend your money or the Parties money on a commercial to help discredit the President, at least come with some facts...

    I think there are one too many Sarah Palin's in your Party.....

    August 17, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. Barry the Airhead

    Clueless is a good word. After all those promises of fixing what is broke we end up with polluted oceants and a steadily deteriorating economy.

    August 17, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. ronalde

    it seems to me that pawlenty is the one who is clueless,there is 290 bills passed by the house and the republicans are holding them up in the senate some of these bills will help to produce jobs all over the country funny he didn't mention this.Forget about running tim I don't thing that people have forgotten about how you turned down the stimulus and then tryed to take credit for it when it was helping your state,you are like a fish out of water flip-flop.

    August 17, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  11. sharon

    Clueless – you ordered your state government to stop giving funds to ACORN when Fox entertainment network cooked up that false story about them and you bit hook, line , and sinker – Problem – your state didn't give them funds anyway. YOUR ARE A JOKE AND SO IS THAT NUT JOB – mICHELLE bACHMAN yOU TWOI GIVE YOUR STATE SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT

    August 17, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. Cmatter

    God forbid an American President ignore his emotion and govern based on facts, intellect and dare i say the constitution!

    a Mosque near Ground Zero is a bad idea because those without brains deem it so

    August 17, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Marco

    Talk talk talk.. that all we hear from republicans...what are their solutions?

    August 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  14. DR.GEORGE JAMES

    Tim Pawlenty is partially right.Religious freedom is good.But,misuse of religious freedom is no good.This is what Obama needs to understand.
    Economy is bad,because Republicans misused it for eight years.
    Obama cannot be responsible for that.

    August 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. rick m

    I live in Minnesota, Pawlenty is an IDIOT!

    August 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Jon

    "We need to be growing this economy, lightening the burden for…the people that can get the economy going."

    Also known as "tax cuts for rich people." Go ahead and say it, we all know what you mean. This worked out so well under Bush, why not try it again now, right? I swear Republicans and I don't live on the same planet. T-Paw is clueless and soon to be unemployed, thank goodness.

    August 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Augsbee

    President Obama just doesn't have administrative, management experience and governors see that in him, most of us do. He had never ran a business, a state, city, a division, he was a community organizer which is very different as there are no budgets to deal with or state taxes, property taxes, parks/rec, water mgt, payroll, police/fire depts, permits, laws, jobs, unemployment, tourism, transportation, road maint, farming, emergencies, insurance, etc....Obama is going through on the job training and his actions show it.

    August 17, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Granny Griper

    Clueless: huh. These repubs don't know the meaning of clueless!!
    They are clueless, this president is doing exactly what he told the american people he would do and if you remember he said it would not be and easy task. He said the jobless rate would rise into the double digits and stay there for quite some time, fortunately it has come down.
    He told you he would treat all people equally and he is trying to do that.
    This president has had more disasters during the short time he has been in there than any other president.
    The repubs conveniently forget all the truths and make up their lies.
    I don't think any of them have a brain or the wacky weed has really gotten to them. Some of the stuff they say doesn't have a bit of common sense to it. OH YEAH THATS WHAT THEY HAVE LOST COMMON SENSE

    August 17, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. Jared

    The law, freedom of speech, and the right to build on your own land in this country, doesn't have to be sensative. That's why it's called the law. We can't bend the constitution everytime we feel that it's wrong or shouldn't be applied this time. It is what it is.

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

    Oh I see, Pawlenty would prefer the Constitution be changed to uphold rights for those who align with his own religious preferences perhaps? What a baffoon! I don't think Obama ever stated it was good judgment to put a mosque there, now did he? He simply said it was their right; it's private property. But, no, the GOP and their spin artists on Fox have to blow it all out of proportion because their fan base loves this crap and worst of all believe it. Again, no new solutions here, just the same ole criticism. None of us with a memory will forget where this party led us in the past. I'm not handing back the steering wheel no matter how loud they whine.

    August 17, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. duke

    timmy pawlenti is a moron to make a statement that obama is clueless.he was told to say that by shaun hatenitti from fox. i hope pawlwneti runs with sorry palin. what a ticket for dems to face.

    August 17, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  22. Rick McDaniel

    Can't argue with those comments. The evidence supports them.

    August 17, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. OhJeezNotThisAgain

    As usual, he's being stunning dishonest. "This isn't about the technical and hyper-technical legal issues..." Uh, sorry Tim, but from the government's perspective that's exactly what it's about. This is America and we have laws and civil rights. Just because your feelings might be hurt doesn't mean that a private property owner's rights can be violated. Yes it's tacky and disrespectful to build in such a controversial location, but again, this is America. It's legal to be tacky and disrespectful. If you don't like that then America isn't the right place for you.

    August 17, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Tony

    Again these guys always turn up the heat to an unproductive level. They really make me sick.

    August 17, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. Tim

    I've said he is clueless from day 1. The press is clueless on how clueless Obama is. What does that make the press?

    Obidient followers?

    August 17, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
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