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. KatieDid

    Actually, it's the GOOP that are clueless.
    They don't realize there are stealth democrates out here that don't answer poles, don't prostest everything under the sun, don't have KKK Rallies (or attend them), don't harass the opposition, don't hold up racist signs, hold court on a street corner, etc.
    The GOOP (the Grand Ole Ogre Party) are sooooooo clueless that their 'heads will be in their laps before they realize we've pulled our knives'. I heard that on one MSNBC!!!

    August 17, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. Shelly

    The Republicans are CLUELESS.....no ideas, no solutions, no decency. I do not trust them.....they claim they are the unwavering followers of the Constitution but as soon as there is an issue that involves the rights of the minorities, the poor, the gay, and the jobless they turn their face around. Can't trust these fear filled, small minded, self indugent idiots!

    August 17, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. DCRUMPTON

    It's time to unlock his records and see what is hiding. How a clue less empty suit non documented person such as this is in the highest office of the land. You wonder how the Germans let Hitler come to power after watching Obama rise and flutter all i can say is thank God the Arm Forces aren't doing his bidding.

    August 17, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. The unsub

    It baffles me how these folks can criticize the prez. from afar when they know that they cannot do the job.

    As I said in previous posts, if Obama ended global warming, established world peace, and found a cure for cancer, folks like Pawlenty ...et al. would still find fault in him. What does this say about Americans?

    August 17, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. TheTraveler

    Ah, so easy to be critical of others when you're not the one on the hot seat.

    "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."

    It has nothing to do with any of those things nor "common sense" (whatever that is these days). Does Pawlenty think the Constitution was written to be "warm and fuzzy". No. It was written to insure equal rights and treatment for all citizens in this country. Period.

    The times will come and go, but the Constitution was designed to remain inviolate and constant for Americans.

    August 17, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. cecilia

    If he thinks this President is clueless it is only because he cannot understand what the President is trying to say. it seems the only things the Republicans understand is emotional, subjective false information devoid of facts and reason and shouted at the top of their lungs.
    Thank God for intelligent, thoughtful comments.

    August 17, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. once upon a horse

    a member of the Sarah Palin/Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh led Republican party calling ANYBODY "clueless" has to be one of the biggest laughs so far of the year!

    August 17, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  8. Liz the First

    Why do you folks at CNN consider this news? why do we care what this twit thinks? ok, we get it, the rethugs hate Obama and will say and do anything to bring down his presidency and the country with it! why are you enabling them? every piece of verbal feces that falls from their lips is not news! you are becoming part of the problem. try focusing on his accomplishments, which btw, are many, and stop filling the air with all this hate spewing from the idiot opposition. if the rethugs ever come up with an actual constructive idea, then please let us know. this crap isn't news, it's nothing but hate speech.

    August 17, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  9. tlh

    It will be fun to watch Pawlenty go up against Obama in a debate.

    Whether you like Obama or not is not the issue here. It's when politicians (of any flavor) stand there and say: "he doesn't get it" they are implying they DO get it! (And then fail to say WHY they "get it" so voters can say "maybe this IS a guy we want!")

    MN has always weathered recesssions better than most states in the Union. This time is has not. Under whose watch has MN's economy floundered? Think about it Mr. Pawlenty.

    It would be refreshing to see a politician (both Dem and Rep) think before they speak. But I guess that's really wishful thinking.

    August 17, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. Elliot

    The irony. Obama steps up and defends somebody's right to do something he doesn't necessarily consider to be wise (mosque) and people like Pawlenty think he should govern based on his own personal faith and bias. However, if the issue were ANYTHING else they would be jumping up and down screaming that he was putting his own personal beliefs above the rule of law. Nice. Just another mud slinger trying to get some name recognition.

    People love to complain about our politicians, etc, but I think much of the blame should fall on the American people. We have turned getting elected into a for-profit capitalistic endeavour and we are facing the consequences.

    August 17, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  11. April in Denver

    And what do you & your party have to offer, governor, besides old ideas, greed, and a lot of obstruction? Talk about clueless!

    August 17, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. w l jones

    I am quit sue the state of Minnesota unemployless with a two term governor heading it economic. Bless.

    August 17, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. John N.C.

    Of course Obama is clueless–always has been.

    August 17, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  14. roro

    Pawlenty calling Obama clueless! If that isn't the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is!

    August 17, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  15. I guess it's his turn

    Wow have you ever?

    August 17, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  16. thomas

    Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty ,
    Walk your talk , not your SPIN !
    When you say Obama is clueless , you need to look in the mirror and ask your self what you have done to better this country ?

    Power hungry , yes man owned and operated by big baseness, you and Mit R will make a great ticket in 2012.

    August 17, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. Shiranee Dassanayake

    Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones!!

    August 17, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. Can't We All Just Get Along?

    All this was said on Faux news? Then it's obvious it's a barefaced lie. Sheesh. I thought something was coming from an actual news source, not a tabloid show like Faux News.

    What's next? Sean Hannity and a wookiee have a love child?

    August 17, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. Diane P

    Pawlwnty will never be President, he doesn't have it, he can spend the rest of the year in Iowa, it'll never happen. Who is he to say the President is in over his head, these people act as though the President is in the White House alone making decisions, some of the advisors are republicans, the level of disrespect shown this President has become a natioanl embarrassment. Oh, yeah the sacred ground for the community center is a boarded up Burlington Coat Factory, the GOP is hallarious!!!!

    August 17, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  20. SkiDoc

    "Clueless" is being too kind. This socialist is taking the country over the brink of financial ruin. november can't come soon enough!!

    August 17, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  21. cando

    Wow, a republican calling a democrat clueless. The republican's are the one's that got us into this mess and expect President Obama to fix it in less than 2 years. Who is clueless?

    August 17, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  22. ETM

    Can't wait to see Obama kick this clown's butt in 2012 if Pawlenty gets the nomination.

    August 17, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  23. John N Florida

    This from a spokesman for a party that supported a President for 8 years who never had a clue, never got a clue, pulled out of Afghanistan just as victory was obtainable, and bankrupted the country with his tax cuts, de-regulation, and an out of control Vice President who did what HE wanted regardless of the Constitution.
    Now, they're pushing for "Bush III".
    No way.

    August 17, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. Fola Babalola

    I am tired of clueless Republican calling our President clueless. What have you guys done when you where in office for 8 years. Please save the air and give our beloved President some breathing space. The guy have done tried his best within the last one year compared to 8 years of Bush. I wonder who made you the governor, I think you are the one clueless!!!!

    August 17, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. Marcus

    "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."
    'Common sense'
    Anyone with hate and bigotry you mean?
    Anyone with common sense does not judge 1 billion human beings for what less than 0,001% of them does.
    Anyone with common sense REFUSES to let the dead be used as political tools.
    Anyone with common sense might disagree with the POTUS, MIGHT, but has the chance to change up his mind when his 'reasons' as to why he/she is disagreeing are debunked with facts and reasonability, which is not your case.

    August 17, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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