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. Michael

    Are we this stupid as a country that we can't appreciate the rights of people of faith to practice their religion? This is a private religious organization building a place of worship on its own land. There's nothing incorherent about Obama's message that we have a First Amendment to our Constitution and that we are going to respect it.

    August 17, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Marie MD

    Can the rethugs come up with something else besides putting down our beat mcnasty and the witdh hands down elected President President every time (all the time reallyt) they have nothing to say?
    Not vetted properly (by the imbecile from AK); worst president ever (from the son of the worst potato(e) head VP we have ever had – lots of stupid comments starting with blaming him for the Mexican drug cartel?); and now thissorry excuse of a governor from a state in dire need of a real governor? I work with someone from MN. They hate him!!
    Stop blaming the democrats for everything and give us solutions, ideas, anything!!!!! to make it better for the country.
    The rethugs are pathetic

    August 17, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. Steve, New York City

    While I believe that criticism of American presidents is our right, as Americans, and President Obama DESERVES some critisms in some areas, some of the "noise" coming from the far right seems ridiculous. . .
    Pawlenty is saying that he could have somehow done a better job, with all of the problems we'd faced in January 2009? . . . Dan Qualye's son (Mr. "Potato(e)" Head, Junior) is out there blabbing – where are his facts?
    . . .and what about the right-wing jumping all over Obama about his NY mosque comments – I didn't see them attacking George Bush '43 when that president invited Muslim ambassadors to the White House for an Eid' dinner, after the 9/11 attacks. This "smells" like racism to me!!!
    And finally, unlike many of you out there (including the loud-mouthed Giuliani) – I WAS FIVE BLOCKS AWAY from the North Tower when the first plane hit on 9/11, yet I don't blindly blame all Muslims for the actions of a few cretins. Where were you Birthers when that first plane hit?????????

    August 17, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. Reality Walking

    Clueless. If I were a right-wing xenophobe like Tim Pawlenty I'd be careful how I used that word. Minnesota may be an all-white, all-christian state (in his eyes) but the rest of the nation is not.

    August 17, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Randolph Carter, i'm no expert, but...

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

    So his answer is cutting taxes for the wealthy? Gee, that's worked so well at creating jobs every other time we tried it. Moron. Have a nice day!

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. John 1776

    That is kind of the crux of the situation. We have "elected" a captain to navigate our ship through a dangerous field of icebergs who has no experience in piloting a ship. He can have the best character and the most honorable intentions, but without experience we are in grave danger.

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. GL

    I guest all the clowns in the Republicans party in 2012 is going to be calling President Obama all kinds of names, but if they con't have a plan in 2012 these same fools in the Republicans party that continue to insult our President is going to lose in 2012 no matter how this fools scream President Obama is this and that. We hard if all for the last two year Republicans so right about now we don't give a damm what you think about our President. Pawlenty you are boring and too weak to run this country.

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. James Brooklyn N.Y.

    who is this guy anyway? has he done anything at all or just another Palin type Republican. say anything and have no facts to back it up.

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. Dave

    Gosh, it's hard to remember back more than a couple of years. I seem to remember that it was the Republicans that ruined our economy in the first place. Tell me again why we would want to put them in charge to fix it?

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. liz

    If anybody knows about clueless, it GOPers running for the 2012 presidential node.

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  11. prentog

    Cnn will you please report real news and stop with this He said she said crap. This has been building over the last few months and it is really coming to the point where I can't watch your broadcast. You are really going down the path of Fox with your sensationalism. Report the news. I don't care how clueless pawlenty thinks Obama is. Also, I don't know of you notice but critics don't normally have anything nice to say so stop reporting it as news. There are thousands of people suffering from the floods in Pakistan. There are thousands of people out of work here amid accusations of businesses slowing growth for political reasons. Maybe that's a good story to look into. Do it!

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. slipthalo

    A Republican calling the President clueless? Perhaps he and other Republicans should look in the mirror and then call who they see clueless as they have no answers to any of our problems – well, except for saving those tax cuts for the rich.

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. All the news that is fit to omit

    Clueless, gutless and the worst president of my lifetime (including Carter and Bush's second term debacles).

    He was selected, elected and now protected by the LSM, but the new media is dwarfing them and their lies, distortions and opinion journalism masquerading as REAL journalism has been proved fraudulent.

    See you in November Sotero and good luck to Pawlenty.

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. dean blake

    these critics of our president are way out of the truth.
    the fact is that we are very lucky to have president Obama.
    the right way to do things is to work with each other to solve problems.
    even athletes know that teams work together become winners.
    those critics help make things worse.some of the news companies are awful because they want AMERICA TO FAIL(HOW STUPID!).
    HOW ABOUT WE ALL WORK TOGETHER?THAT WAY THE USA
    WILL AGAIN BE THE BEST OF THE WORLD.

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. GL

    Republicans slogan is if you don't have a plan to get this country back on track just ATTACK the President plan.

    August 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. Sally

    Golly, Tim, you sound like the whiner Sarah Palin. As usual, lots of complaints and no solutions. And this from a guy whose state elected Michele Bachmann?
    Pray tell, what has Obama done wrong? We're leaving Iraq, the stock market has rebounded, housing is recovering, and yes, jobs are here and growing. He and his advisers saved the US from the depression that McCain would have caused by doing nothing but building up the military, and probably attacking Iran.Yet another unpaid for war. Great ideas, Republicans.
    And by the way, had the President weighed in on the mosque two weeks ago, and told them to move it, you'd be blaming him for ignoring states rights, wouldn't you? This is not the business of the President. Nor is it any of yours except to get your name in the headlines today.

    August 17, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. mkmChicago

    What nerve! The GOP saddled us with eight years of the most obtuse president ever, but now attempt to portray President Obama as less than intelligent ? Poppycock! in place of another term I could use, but would probably get my post flagged.

    Yet again, the party of NO! resorts to Hitlerian logic, The BIG lie. Repeat it enough and a large number of people will eventually believe it. The fact that the GOP is convincing themselves of it is actually good news in my book. Yep, slap each other on the back and crow about how "clueless" the President is. When the dust settles after the next round of elections You'll once again be trying to figure out HOW did he whip us AGAIN ???

    August 17, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. Roger

    Obama, by distorting the facts and failing to take into consideration the direction of the Nation and the economy that the American people are demanding is eventually a formula for disaster. Obama speaks (far too many times double-talking) with arrogrance and tries to give the impression that because he says something it must be true. The Ameican people are finally seeing through this man and his own personal agenda.

    August 17, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. ruff

    No one wants this simpleton to become president (We need to be growing the economy? No kidding sherlock. How about some details.). If he truly believes Obama is wrong on the mosque issue, he is welcome to propose a change to the first ammendment. But we all know he won't.

    August 17, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. John

    Has he (Plawlenty) or any of the other folks who are opponents of this "Family Center and Prayer Room" read the Bill of Rights lately?

    Secondly, this facility that is purposed is not even at the World Trade Center site. Should we not let Catholic Churches be built next play
    grounds?

    Lastly, How far is this hysteria regarding Muslims going to go? And if you have any doubt about the hysteria, just ask any Japanese American that was a live during WW II and how they liked camping.

    If we as a nation want to truly make this a better world for all, then we
    must show Tolerance and practice it.

    August 17, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  21. Bill

    Right on Target Governor

    August 17, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. GL

    All the Republicans know how to do are attack people of other race and faith. All Muslims and Mexicans are not bad people like the Republicans like their nutty racist base thinks.

    How many minority groups are you fools going to attack this year just to get your racist base excited? Republicans is the party of hate and race baiting.

    August 17, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. green

    'Common sense" does not trump a constitutional right. If Americans want to throw out our core principles , we should all be prepared to live in a not so free country. The mosque location is offensive , amplified by the fact American Muslims failed to denounce the 9/11 attack. I expected marches in the streets , but this did not happen ! If Muslims want these issues to cool down , they will need to show their resolve as Americans.

    August 17, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. a in austin

    Spin his comments however you want – the GOP are stil the ones who have REFUSED to help the American people out.

    August 17, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  25. Buster

    I have a bumper sticker on my vehicle which has a picture of President Reagan and the words "Remember when America had a real President"? Oh, those were the good ole days and come 2012 when we finish cleaning out congress and this White House, the good ole days may return when America had jobs and our economy was robust and not near collapse as it is now. It took a few years to clean up jimmy carters mess but we can do it again by cleaning up the mess of nobama and the liberal congress.

    August 17, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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