August 17th, 2010
03:04 PM ET
8 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. Chaco

    Mr. Pawlenty, what is your plan to turn the economy around? Let's hear the details. Try to remember back to the fall of 2008 when it looked like this country was headed for total economic meltdown. It is a minor miracle that we are still afloat. Think a little on that point before responding to some softball questions from the hacks at Fox news.

    August 17, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    What part of freedom of religion does the GOP not understand? Pawlenty and other GOP politicians claim to believe in strict interpretation of the US Constitution. However that position is put aside when it is advantageous to inflame racial and religious feelings.

    August 17, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. Tim - Wilmington, DE

    Seeing Tim Pawlenty trying to be tough and assertive is just plain hilarious. He looks like he should be working the table at a bake sale rather than leading a nation. I can't read these stories or see his interviews without laughing. It's literally impossible for me to feel the need to contest his claims, as he's just so pathetic and non-threatening.

    August 17, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. Laurie

    Takes clueless to know clueless Tim Pawlenty

    August 17, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. Shane B

    "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."

    Screw the consitutuion. Right? after all its just a piece of paper.

    August 17, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. Surthurfurd

    From a member of the so called Republicans? I used to be a proud member of the Republican party. We had our issues; but, now it is a party without convictions. They have proudly promoted lies to rally the people. They have no plan to solve our economic problems, just attacks. Even worse, when they do roughly hint at their plans it always falls back on economic myths like trickle down (Voodo Economics) as opposed to real economics.

    They are the party of the Dixicrats and the Neo-Cons. They are not what they were.

    August 17, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Sniffit

    "lightening the burden for…the people that can get the economy going. "

    Wow...if that's not code for "tax cuts for the already wealthy" then I don't know what is. Screw this chump. Pawlenty has polenta for brains.

    "This isn't about the technical and hyper-technical legal issues."

    Translation: "When the law is inconvenient, we should just ignore it." Unfortuantely for Polenta, that is PRECISELY what it is about. Public sentiment and hurt feelings or differing viewpoints on what constitutes "decent behavior" have NOTHING to do with whether property owners can put whatever they want on private property so long as the use complies with the applicable laws. The ability to own private property is one of the most sacred rights protected by the Constitution and this attitude that myriad different interpretations of the alleged symbolic meaning attributable to the use to which someone puts their private property based on generalized demonization of an entire class of's a flagrant warping...nay, ABANDONMENT...of our founding beliefs. The entire dialogue constitutes proof that the fearful, angry, misinformed right wing cares NOTHING for our Constitution and our nation's ideological keystones when adherence would be inconvenient.

    August 17, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Ben in Texas

    Remember the good old days, when all those pickups and SUVs had Bush/Cheney stickers, next to the one that said "Support the President"? In the dark of night, people sneaked out to their gas hogs and scraped off that "Support the President" sticker, leaving the other one.

    How can anyone take seriously a party that steadfastly refuses to admit that the Bush/Cheney years were the low water mark in American history? If the Party of No cared anything about America, why haven't they called for the indictment of Bush and Cheney, along with Rumsfeld, Libby, and others?

    We all know they are criminals! There is a mountain of evidence that they lied us into 2 wars, shoveled money to the super rich, outed a CIA agent, tortured in violation of international law, and raped the economy. But Repugnants refuse to accept the blame and instead point fingers at the good man in the White House who has had less than 2 years to clean up the mess they made!

    August 17, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. BJ Stevens

    Let's see now, the President said that they have every right to build the mosque, but that does not speak to the wisdom of doing it. Do you understand now?

    August 17, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. Gary

    Big deal. What else do you expect someone to say on "Fox News' Hannity"?

    August 17, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  11. jason

    is this guy for real? the president was right when he said under the constitution, we are all equal to pray to whatever god we choose as well as where we choose to worship. denying the right of a group of people to build a house of worship is comparable to the terriost acts that kill so many on 9/11. it is a slap in the face to all americans when the constitution is pushed aside to calm the fears of the masses. we cant expect musilums to understand what it is to be an american when americans will not understand what it is to be a musilum.

    August 17, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. Audrey Fryer

    "He doesn't have the depth of experience". Pray tell, which President ever had the depth of experience. You can't acquire experience until you have done the job so I can say that you also have no depth of experience. Running a state is a far far cry from running the whole country.

    August 17, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  13. Bill Taylor

    I guess if the President is cluless, then all of them who want to be president and failed I guess are stupid!!

    August 17, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. sine

    You know I'm about tired of all these CLUELESS Republicans talking out of the left side of their neck. They obviously don't have any input to whats going on in this country, their only job is to concentrate on divisive issues (which by the way they are on the wrong side of). They act like the constitution is their bible but in the same moment they trample on top of it. The only clueless people are people who are worried about their election or reelection. Obviously the President doesn't care about that because he says what he feels is right for the country. You want a definition of clueless look at your party leaders Sarah palin or new Gingrich or better yet look at the past president who put us into this mess!!!

    August 17, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  15. Paul

    Bush and republicants and Shean Hannity HAD ALL THE EXPERIENCES IN THE WORLS, look at where they left the country and we lost 6,000 of our braves in Irak because of their nonesense. Not even 3 years, they now have ideas to bring the economy where it was when they took office in 2000. How about 6,000 soldiers killed in Irak because of their LIES? Can you REPUBLICANTS bring them back?

    August 17, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. scribe

    Yeah, those dopey old law professors, spouting off about the Constitution when they should be catering to the "common sense" of everyday white folks from the midwest. Pawlenty is a rube.

    August 17, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. Romas

    Politicians really irritate me. It doesn't matter what your personal feelings are, the constitution of the USA prohibits this type of discrimination. Sorry to say this folks; but what this country was founded on is more important to me than what a bunch of emotional children have to say. And to make matters worse, all this inflammatory retoric now has groups like Hezbollah speaking up. So when we get attacked again you will know who to blame – all the loud mouths who made a mountain out of a mole-hill.
    My long tiome philosophy has been that if you don't give attention to what you dislike, it will never be an issue and may just quietly go away.

    August 17, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  18. sonny chapman

    The Republican Plan: 1-Domestic Policy-Tax Cuts for the rich & wholesale deregulation. 2- Foreign Policy- Bombs Away & aspersions on anyone who's not blond haired, blue eyed & straight teeth.

    August 17, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  19. DD

    Anyone with common sense knows the NYC mosque construction is about PROPERTY OWNER RIGHTS. Guess they don't have that in Minnesota. Ya already lost my vote, pal.

    August 17, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. CommonSense

    Have the people of America lost their minds?!? The people building this Mosque did not burn down the twin towers, there is no evidence that they are participating in terrorist activities or had anything to do with 9/11. The overwhelming majority of Muslims are NOT terrorist and don't support terrorist activities. The people who brought down the twin towers were part of Al Queda which represents a miniscule portion of Muslims throughout the world. Al Queda has bar far been responsible for the the deaths more Muslims than Americans since 9/11. To equate the people building this Mosque/Community center or Islam in general with the terrorist of 9/11 is an emotional response rather than a rational one. Its a sad day in America when supporting the constitution is reduced to simply being "politically correct". I feel like I'm in a bad dream or something. I think in 5 or 10 years as a country we'll look back at this moment in time and shake our collective heads thinking "what the hell were we thinking".

    August 17, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. Boytjie

    Imagine that: being too technical and lawyerly about the Constitution instead of being touchy feely about it.

    August 17, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  22. Pete

    Pawlenty trashed Minnesota. Look at the numbers. He will do the same with America if he gets the chance. Pawlenty is the one who is clueless.

    August 17, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  23. Padraig

    By stating he is clueless – Pawtney needs to stick with the facts. The President is over his community orginizers head.

    Any President is as good as the team he assembles around him. It has always been and will be in the future like that. Any orginization is like that.

    The President has built a poor team, his ecomomic experts are leaving because they understand that they are sinking and are leaving him holding the bag. That is what you get when your hand pick team are socialists and communists. The prinicple or philosophy may be there but it is just a utopia. It doesn't work, that has been proven (Russia, Greece, Spain, Italy, England, Venezula, etc...)

    August 17, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  24. Norman

    Mr Pawlenty,

    He's got a plenty of baloney to spew ,but thats all the GOP has is talk,
    talk and more talk to totally ignore the real issues except of course attacking our President.

    Just anybody with a brain can remember what eight years of Bush Jr did for us. Refunds for the rich, privitize SSA (failed) and the markets are on life support and the Iraqi WAR.

    Mr Pawlenty I am sure as President you would help all of the citizens of these Ununited States. I say no Republican gets my vote and I hope for our sake that President Obama is reelected. Democrats/Progressives yes and GOP no, no and NO.

    August 17, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  25. anthony

    Most people have no clue that Pawlenty is still the governor of Minnesota. He has been in a non-stop, undeclared campaign for the White House since the last presidential election. At least Palin had the grace to resign her job when she no longer wanted to do it.

    August 17, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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