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. Jude

    Many Minnesotans were very unhappy with Pawleny's tenure as governor and yet he thinks he's qualified to take on Obama?

    August 17, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  2. FAUX NEWS is FIXED NEWS

    Eazy to criticize little Tim!

    If this dufus got a clue about common sense, maybe Minnesota would be paradise on earth!...with jobs overflowing, not cutting teachers pay and having a state whose infrastructure is NOT critically dilapitated!

    yep, it's all Obama's fault!!!

    August 17, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. Liberal4Obama

    President Obama sided with the US Constitution, but republicans don't know much about that document, President Obama does.

    August 17, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Repuli-nazis

    Hey Hey, Mr GOVONER.... Would love to hear what you think makes the current Prez. 'clueless'?

    I have not heard an answer that is economically viable from the Republi-nazis. Don't expire tax cuts????? How we gonna pay for that???? You guys scream and yell to cut spending all the time. I never heard Mr Pawlenty explain how the Gausian-copola and the housing crisis are related.... Never heard him explain what the relationship between deficit spending and private profits are.... Ohhh I forgot... Republi-Nazis have one liners and no clue.... This country deserves better..... Republicans are the downfall of this country.

    August 17, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. TTBALA

    Mr. Pawlenty,

    Shame on you, you would say anything and do anything to get name recognition, if you were so smart and you are in touch with everything is going on in this country, where were you when GWB was running this country into the ground, this shows us how clueless you are and how out of touch you are, first if you have any idea what are you talking about, you wouldn't be sitting in front og Hannity and give an interview, you know he would not ask you what great ideas you have, second, if you had any dignity any self respect, you would not call a sitting president names, you would go out there and tell us your ideas and how these ideas will change this country, you Moron.

    August 17, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. Big John

    Another politician who steps up and announces he doesn't know what he's talking about. The economy is turning around though slowly.
    GM has made a turnaround and other business are beginning to pick up as well. President Obama is definately not clueless, he's helped the turnaround with his direction.
    Is this not the land of the free??? Or is it free only to the non Arab???
    Or what is the safe distance from the sacred ground of the WTC? Get real, the mosques have nothing to do with the WTC nor their proximity to it, it's just tea baggers increasing their racism to the Arab world.

    August 17, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  7. hal

    I agree-but Pawlenty isn't the answer. Paul Ryan, Jon Huntsman and Mitch Daniels are the key GOP candidates to get us out of this mess!!

    August 17, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. Ben Ben

    So what happens when a Repub gets into the WH and gives tax break to their rich buddies and deregulates big buisness and the economy does not improve and the rich keeping getting richer. Will they be "clueless" also?

    August 17, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. Chicago Joe

    "uhh...I didn't...uhhh....support the measure and...uhhh...I do not oppose the measure...uhhh...I vote 'Present'"

    August 17, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. kd

    Never heard much about Palwenty. But after those stupid comments, my opinion of him is rock bottom.

    August 17, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. ky

    No Tim, it is you who is clueless. You slam Obama on economics, but you offer in return nothing other than "lightening the burden for…the people that can get the economy going."

    Who gets the economy going, Tim? The top 2%? Really?

    And the "Mosque" thing is turning into a joke because of comment from people like you. You want religious war, don't you? Being sensitive, being respectful leads us to the understanding that this country was founded on religious freedom. Raising issue with the Islamic center in NYC is exactly what the extremist elements on both sides want. This Islamic center could be just what we need to fight extremists on both sides of the fence.

    August 17, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. lB Colorado

    Somebody has to get tough on the president, I know his job IS NOT EASY, but he knew it going into it. He said he could do the job and make changes for the better. What is your idea of better? Our idea of better is no new taxes, health reform, if you can't pay for it without dipping into our pockets, then you are not considered a success. If you haven't put a surge on jobs, then you have not succeeded, we did not say you could do it all, MR. PRESIDENT – YOU SAID YOU COULD DO IT ALL, I remember watching you on the debates. When John McCain said he would tax benefits after the $5,000.00 mark, you said that was just wrong, WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING. Stop spending money you don't have and quit spending our money that we DON'T HAVE.

    August 17, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. fed up

    Minnesotans have had Palwenty of Palwenty – He lives in one big glass house and has absolutley no room to crticize. He ran our state into the ground and we are worse off then ever. Hey Timmy stuff your rehtoric where the sun don't shine. You are a sorry excuse as a Govenor and would be a worst President. Thats why you only got 1 percent of the most recent repulican straw poll you friggin idiot. Dare you to post this CNN.

    August 17, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. Steve/Iowa

    Enough of Pawlenty and all the other GOP'ers. They have nothing to offer except criticism. No idea's, no nothing. Thank God they were not in control or we would be mired in a depression now. As far as the mosque – the mayor and city council are okay with it, everyone else needs to shut-up.

    August 17, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. Nurse Lisa

    why give place to anything from FOX news?!

    August 17, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. Land of Pawlenty NOT

    Pawlenty is an idiot and will not even carry his own state if he runs. Trust me I live in Mn.

    August 17, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  17. Jill

    Yeah, like your party did such a great job. Your policies got us into this mess, so just sit down, shut up, and let the grown ups handle things now.

    August 17, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  18. Mass Histeria

    This coming from a man who left the state of MN with a $4B deficit and choked funding so much on infrastructure that the bridges are collapsing. Thanks T-Paw

    August 17, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. Brad

    Yeah Tim it's not about that Hypertechnical thing – the First Amendment freedom of religion clause. It's really about fear and hate mongering. Tell you what, run down to your church and tell the pastor he has to be careful what he says in the pew. On the other hand why don't you look up that passage in Bible where Jesus talked about loving your enemy. Of course Jesus was probably being hypertechnical.

    August 17, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. MAhole

    Pawlenty – YOU are the one who is clueless............

    Let's see you try to do what Pres. Obama has done in 2 years. No one will undo the mess the shrub got this country into in 8 years in just 2 you idiot............

    August 17, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  21. Dean Blythe

    Yeah, everything would be sweetness and light today if we just had these "experienced experts" running things. It takes years in a small state governor's seat to learn how to cut a ribbon properly.

    August 17, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  22. peggy

    Pawlenty can shut up his stupid piehole and quit shoving his Republican crap down everyone's throat!!! Where was he with Bush?Cheney????

    August 17, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. New Age Independant

    Obama has handled the mosque situation horribly and even Democrat leadership comments are in conflict. Obama's response was reckless and offensive. He's beginning to sound more and more like Biden!

    August 17, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. fed up

    Minnesotans have had Pawlenty of Pawlenty – He lives in one big glass house and has absolutely no room to criticize. He ran our state into the ground and we are worse off than ever. Hey Timmy stuff your rhetoric where the sun don't shine. You are a sorry excuse as a Governor and would be a worst President. That’s why you only got 1 percent of the most recent republican straw poll you friggin idiot. Dare you to post this CNN.

    August 17, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. Georgia Joe

    I am always surprised that anyone takes anything this man says seriously. I was in Minnesota recently, and almost universally, voters in this state can't wait for the Pawlenty era to end. He has not been a good Governor and has consistently had poll ratings well below that of the President. In regard to the Mosque, the President stated basic facts regarding the Constitution, freedom of religion, local government control and private property rights. These are all principals that this Country is founded upon. It's amazing that all the Republicans who pretend to be the "defenders" of the Constitution are willing to abandon it if the rights happen to be for a group of people they don't like or don't want to support. It's exactly what the founders of the nation attempted to protect against.

    August 17, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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