When did Pawlenty decide to run? He's not sure
May 20th, 2011
12:05 PM ET
3 years ago

When did Pawlenty decide to run? He's not sure

(CNN) – Tim Pawlenty is set to announce he's running for president on Monday, but does he need a better answer as to why?

The former Minnesota governor is taking heat from Iowa Democrats after what appeared to some as a bungled answer to our sister publication Time Magazine when asked when he decided he was "up to the grand challenge of the presidency."

Pawlenty responded by noting he had set up a political action committee two years ago. But pressed further on when and how he came to the realization he had what it takes to carry the burdens of the presidency, the former governor said, "I don't know, I wish I had a good answer for you on that."

Pawlenty, who's 50 years-old, added he felt a responsibility upon leaving the governor's office at a young age not to merely "go make some money and play hockey and drink beer."

That answer doesn't pass muster for the Iowa Democratic Party:

"Tim Pawlenty is ready to 'endure the national stage's harsh tool' because, eh, why not," Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said.

Pawlenty is set to make his formal presidential announcement in Iowa on Monday.

UPDATE: Michael Crowley, the Time reporter, tweeted that Democrats are taking the excerpt out of context:

@crowleytime DNC hit on TPaw distorts what he said to me about running: "I don't know" referred to when he first saw self as a prez–not WHY he's running

Here's the full exchange as recounted by Time:


And when I ask Pawlenty, during a second interview in Des Moines, Iowa, exactly when he decided he was up to the grand challenge of the presidency, he answers in less than grandiose terms, explaining how he'd set up a political-action committee in 2009. I try again, saying I am curious about when he first imagined himself worthy of the history books, ready to send soldiers to their deaths and endure the national stage's harsh toll. "I don't know," he replies. "I wish I had a good answer for you on that." Pawlenty says it is not an idea that crossed his mind 15 or 20 years ago but that as he considered life as a relatively young ex-governor, he felt obliged not to take the easy path and "go make some money and play hockey and drink beer." He adds that he almost didn't run at all. "Mary and I talked about this at length, and many times, and it was a close call," he says, mentioning his wife of 24 years. He adds with a laugh, "It could have gone the other way for all the reasons you're suggesting."

Filed under: Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. HAD ENOUGH? 9% unemployment, $4-5/gal gas, $1.7 TRILLION deficits, $14 TRILLION debt, Obamacare

    Thank God I am a Democrat. I would not want to be associated with these right wing idiots. Obama/Biden 2012

    May 20, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. Ryan

    I betting he's not sure on a lot of things.

    May 20, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. Em in Minnesota

    Tim Pawlenty just left Minnesota's problems for our new governor to deal with rather than do anything constructive his whole second term. He left Minnesota's infrastructure in shambles due to his inability to understand that sometimes tax hikes are a necessary evil if we want a functional government. He will never get close to the presidency. Those who might consider voting for him should ask the people of Minnesota what they think of him....he's an arrogant moron.

    May 20, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. JMR49

    He Decided to run the day after declaring a 6 BILLION dollar state deficit a balanced budget. It's ok though, the GOP run legislature will fix it with their – Guns, Gays, Gyno agenda...

    May 20, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. C. Howe Yulikit

    Wow we can pair Mr. "I wish I had a good answer" Pawlenty with Mr. "I'm going to possibly think about campaigning soon" Daniels and have the All Indecision ticket. Might give the Romney/Gingrich Flip Flop express a run for their money.

    May 20, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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