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. desertique

    He's right. It is not about hyper technical legal issues. Anyone with a basic understanding of the constitution and America's values knows that religious freedom and private property are woven into the fabric of our country. When I look at the things that Obama has handled just in his first 18 months of office it is baffling. And every issue, tragedy, and complication has been handled with grace, finesse, teamwork, intelligence and strength. Muslim Americans vote too and many vote republican due to the anti abortion and pro family stance of the party. I don't think the republicans are using common sense.

    August 17, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. john

    Is it news that a Republican running for President has something critical to say about the Democratic incumbent?

    August 17, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. bobbi

    The Republican party and the right wing in particular have lost any
    sense of what this country is about. In their eagerness to tear down this president .They have shown themselves to have no conscience, conviction or integrity. Instead of defending the constitution they threaten it. They should feel shame but have none.

    August 17, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Todd M

    2 issues here.

    1. The imam can build his community center since NYC says he can. 1st amendment protection all the way.
    2. It is particularly galling for that location and that the imam doesn't seem willing to attempt to find a different location, assuming someone has asked him to.

    I would implore the President and the Mayor to work with the imam to move the community center to a different location, but not 2 blocks away from the WTC site.

    Mr. President quit acting liek a lawyer. You've lost control of your messages because you want it both ways. When you're not decisive you lose.

    August 17, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. Jon KIng

    Pawlenty is saying that a President should not support basic rights such as freedom of religion is it is not politically popular. Any unpopular groups such as Muslims or gays I suppose a President should not protect. Wow, Repubs are morally bankrupt.

    August 17, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. Whammybar

    Has anyone thought to ask the good Govenor what he has done to help the President with his monumental task of running the country and facing all of these problems. If the Govenor is so certian that the President is incapable of handling his responsibilities then what has he done to help? I'm sure that his best interest is the general welfare of the entire nation, otherwise why would he be so concerned that the President is just not up to the job.
    His comments are pathetic patrtisanship at it's worst.

    August 17, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. Jane (Minnesota)

    This from a man who is Clueless on how to manage a State's budget and has created a huge mess for whoever is the next Minnesota Governor elected in November.

    August 17, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. babs

    GOPer's seem to always feel that if you're not mean and nasty and full of hate then you're "Clueless".

    August 17, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. doug

    Only people who let hate rule their hearts still support Obama, and some people who for many right reasons wish to see our first African American president be successful.

    The Presidency of Obama will turn out to be a good thing, more and more Americans each day are not just learning of the evil that the Democrat party is, but just how hateful, mean, dishonest, selfish, and nasty most Democrats in America truly are.

    August 17, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Steve

    Politicians make these ridiculous claims because they know that news outlets will report on the claims and the politician will gain name recognition with people who are having emotional reactions to these issues. I'm sure Tim Pawlenty doesn't actually believe his own words, but he knows that by saying these things he will get in the headlines. Please do not report every outrageous comment that politicians make; it's an obvious attempt to grab attention, and you are helping them do it. You may disagree with President Obama's stance, but it's outrageous to say that he's 'clueless' or 'lacks common sense.' I'd much rather hear people, who respect each other's intelligence even when they differ on the issues, have a level-headed discussion.

    August 17, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  11. brian in denver

    So Pawlenty blasts Obama on Faux News.... Is this story even worth putting on the CNN site?

    August 17, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  12. ridingcare

    Another naive and Palin-like republican wants to run to become a our president in 2020.

    August 17, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. NSHSDad

    The mosque in Manhattan is the business of the people in NYC – how they zone and make judgements. It's a red-meat issue and it's being cynically used.

    Do people expect the federal government to write a law forbidding mosques within a two mile radius of some location in NYC? Let's see how that one stands up. It's empty bluster.

    August 17, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. Lynne WA state

    Just because you don't like the way someone thinks doesn't make them clueless...otherwise most people would think all other people in the world were brain dead

    August 17, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. Mr. Grumpy

    Obama clueless about the economy? Now that's a revelation! Anyone in business can see that. You can throw in all the Dem leadership in that bag.

    August 17, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. CathyInAZ

    I lived in MN and am familar with Gov. Pawlenty. The only one who is clueless here is Gov Pawlenty! Most of those in MN would agree – look at the mess he left there and he is calling the President clueless.
    As far as I am concerned, the President was quite clear in his statement regarding the building of a COMMUNITY CENTER, not a MOSQUE 3-4 blocks from Ground Zero – NOT AT GROUND ZERO. This is an non-issue which the GOP is exploiting for election purposes. This country was founded due to religious persecution and the idea that only SOME religions should be tolerated is beyond words.
    As far as the economy, the Gov needs to look at the mess HIS PARTY left – it isn't going to be fixed overnight.
    Until the GOP comes up with solid ideas instead of the constant NO NO NO drumbeat they WILL continue to lose support!

    August 17, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. mark

    You, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, are short sighted and aren't capable of any vision of the future. What our President did, was to put the United Stated of America before the "feelings" of himself. You MUST agree with it if you truely believe in a FREE America. But, you are a typical GOP mouthpiece with no brain of your own. All you can do is whine and cry. AMERICA needs a leader that has the balls to say and do the right thing. Close your mouth and use your brain.

    August 17, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. worriedmom

    This President makes me question how sincere he is with the Americans. I know that he wanted to be portrayed as the Great Healer and Unifier but all i see is more and more division in our Great Country and he appears to always be in the center of it. Anywhere from Skip Gates issue where it pitted blacks vs whites, to Shirely Sherod and now to the Mosque. I know at lot of you on here hate Bush with a passion but there is one thing that no one can deny, Bush loved his country and its people. I do not feel that love from this President.

    August 17, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. pc

    to bad these whiners can't help our president fix the issues that america cares about. if more energy from the republican party was given to help obama instead of simply bashing him ,we could probably come out of this state of depression that the gop has put us all in. the gop has done nothing to help the american middle class an we would be fools to vote in a party of NO to everything that might make a differance right now. i will never vote for republicans. they have clearly done more to destroy unity in america than any group i have ever witnessed in my lifetime. the gop is an embarassment to our country.

    August 17, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  20. Mike

    I'm from Minnesota and this gay has done nothing but mess up our state. Get a life Pawlenty and spend more time at home fixing our problems and less time running around the country trying to run for president!

    August 17, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. CT

    Actually the Republicans are the clueless ones. The best they can do to win an elelction is to spread fear and doubt about their opponents. They have no new ideas, they didn't save us from financial disaster under Bush II, and they have no idea how to run the country any better than the Democrats.

    August 17, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  22. Kathy

    No mosque at Ground Zero! To let them build this mosque is ridiculous and very insensitive to the families of those who died there.
    I am shocked at those who support building it. Makes you wonder!

    August 17, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  23. maine liberal

    "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."

    Its about the constitution or do you want to keep shedding that as Bush did for 8 years

    August 17, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. Green Apple

    Thank you Tim Pawlenty for saying everything that's already been said. One of the qualities I look for in a leader is that they're able to parrot the comments of others. I appreciate people who out themselves as being incapable of original thought. Cookie-cutter politicians are rampant and I am SO tired of their empty words.

    August 17, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. Daniel

    This by a guy (Pawlenty) who remained silent through 8 years of George W. Bush's mismanagement of everything from the war in Iraq to the hurricane in Louisiana, at the same time wrecking the economy by inaction? Now that's clueless.Does Pawlenty think we are all idiots? Maybe he's been hanging around too many Republicans to know the truth when it hits him in the face.

    August 17, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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