Pawlenty's talking points on Obama
June 7th, 2011
06:45 PM ET
7 years ago

Pawlenty's talking points on Obama

Washington (CNN) - According to potential Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, President Obama does not tell the truth or have the courage to lead. And, in a nutshell, that's the refrain running through many of the former Minnesota governor's speeches and television interviews in his presidential campaign launch.

While he has used both the strains of truthfulness and courage on the domestic front in the weeks since his official announcement on May 23rd, he had previously questioned the president's courage on foreign policy earlier in the year. That stopped not long before Osama Bin Laden met his end at the hands of US forces. Now Pawlenty's mantra is limited to issues at home, mainly, the nation's fiscal straits.

So, four years after candidate Obama called for "hope and change" Pawlenty seems to be aiming for "truth and courage." And in the way "hope" may have been a dig at President George W. Bush and "change" was a shot at Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Pawlenty's "truth and courage" more than suggest that neither exist now. Pawlenty says as much in his May 27 web video: We need to make sure we have a president who'll step forward and have the courage to tell the truth and lead on these issues that are going to make or break the future of our country. President Obama won't. I will."

He used a gentler version of the truth line Tuesday in an economic speech in Chicago when he said, "The president wrongly thought the stimulus, the bailouts and the takeovers were the solution. He says they worked. They did not." He added, "I promised to level with the American people. To look them in the eye. And tell them the truth."

It is striking in any case when one candidate goes on the record to question the honesty of a political foil, but especially so this early in the election cycle.

The courage issue also stands out, as Pawlenty uses the word in Hemingway-esque proportions. It is the title of his memoir, "Courage to Stand," and his first web video from January. And although the usage of the theme has accelerated after his announcement, he twice explored it to sharply criticize the president earlier this year.

After the president's State of the Union address in January, Pawlenty discussed entitlement reform on Fox News and said, "He has got all this soaring rhetoric, but the fact of the matter is he's chicken to address the real issues."

In April, however, Pawlenty took a different tack from the president's leadership on the deficit. According to Politico, he joked to Dennis Miller, "I think what happens now is that the intel folks brief him in the morning and he's looking for a pair of Depends."

Since then, Obama ordered a daring operation in Pakistan that left Osama bin Laden dead, and Pawlenty has since shied away from questioning the president's courage on national security issues.

As tough as Pawlenty has been on the president, he has generally held his fire and avoided openings to overtly criticize his fellow Republican hopefuls. When pressed at a Fox debate on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's health care plan, Pawlenty said, "Well, Governor Romney is not here to defend himself and so I'm not going to pick on him, or the position that he took in Massachusetts."

- On Monday, June 13, CNN will host the first New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, live from Manchester, NH at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.

Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. BostonianTheWoodlandsTX

    I just wish he had the BALLS to call out Bush on telling the truth on WMD's.

    But lets be for real. ANYBODY questioning the Bush white house would be or were quicly shouted down as un-patriotic,un-american, and against 'them'.

    That is the TRUTH. I'd be more than happy to call anyone a liar to their face if they think that wasn't the case.

    But I reserve my disappoinment for the media. They have been the REAL cowards the last decade.

    Throwing Bush softball questions and never challenged him or the republicans.

    What a bunch of yellow-belly-low-life COWARDS !

    June 7, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. Jake

    Obama does not tell the truth? The GOP stands by doing nothing, needing the economy to tank so they can re-gain the White House....even though the campaigned in 2010 on "jobs first!" The GOP does not tell the truth, and they want all of you to be jobless come 2012!

    June 7, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  3. Angy

    where was pawlenty when bush & company were destroying this country for 8 years? And he like all the other parrots expect the problems to be resolved in 3 years. Give me a break. They have nothing to say about the auto industry from going under or the any other change that President Obama has made. No everybody is not back to work, it took 8 years for people to lose their jobs. Yes POTUS campaign on hope and change. But he also said it would not happen overnight. Even though that is what the repugs expect. I say is it NOT time for the repugs to take over as they would only make things WORSE!

    June 7, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  4. kyle

    GOP candidate and the truth, what a joke this guy is.

    June 7, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  5. logic in LA

    I have an idea- how about if one of these Republicans told the truth about the party's strategy to oust Obama? They do everything in their power to block anything good or diminish it's effect and then say "see- he's not doing anything!"
    Both parties are full of hypocrites, but in today's climate, the Republicans get to hold the mantle.

    June 7, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  6. Martha in Cf

    Pawlenty is not presidential. He left Minnesota in a mess. He did not have truth and courage when govenor of MN.......why would he have it if elected president....................

    June 7, 2011 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  7. EarthlyHalos

    Ummm...Is he seriously trying to win?

    June 7, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  8. Republicans - The "Not Intended To Be Factually Accurate" Party

    Would his former employers, the citizens of the state of Minnesota, hire him again? They know him better than all of us.

    One reason they might not find him truthful or credible on the subject of jobs or the economy is that he has left his state $6 BILLION in debt. He played a shell game of accelerating revenues and deferring expenses which pushed dirt under the rug for someone else to clean up.

    That's not very honest, now is it?

    June 7, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  9. Kara

    Lying lowlife.

    June 7, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  10. C. Howe Yulikit

    Pawlenty – a simpleton for complex times.

    June 7, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. Sven

    Tim who? Oh yeh, the guy who used to be mayor of Lake Wobegone.

    June 7, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. D-Nice

    Talk about an empty suit. What has Palenty ever done? His record in Minnesota was far from stellar, how does he think he will do so much better running the entire country? Instead of ripping on the president why don't you come up with some plans, there Tim? If they are all the like the goolge plan, I would just end my campaign right now.

    June 7, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  13. Patrick from Minnesota

    This man is in no place to criticize Obama for doing a lousy job as president. He was paraded out of our state with a 35% approval rating! Goodbye and good riddence!

    June 7, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  14. Truth Dealer

    Go away Pawlenty ? You wouldn't know the truth if it hit you in the face ! President Obama made a promise to get Bin Laden if he got the chance and guess what , he did ! By the Way President Obama has delivered on the majority of his campaign promises and the ones he couldn't deliver on the Republicans blocked or delayed so he couldn't ! But Timmy just in case you need a refresher on President Obama's accomplishment's Google ( Obama's Ninety accomplishment's ) the list is bigger now but it will get you started ! Timmy you can quack all you wan't but President Obama is going to win again and you won't even make it out of the primaries !

    June 7, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  15. Wise1Speak


    Just as Sarah Palin is the Republican Tea Party's "airhead village idiot"; Tim Pawlenty is the boring and pathetic little weasel whose governorship in Minnesota was a fraud and joke.

    As governor, Tim Pawlenty shuffled the state budget so corporations and the rich got huge tax cuts, while hardworking middle-class Americans got shafted. He shifted budget burdens onto middle-class suburban Americans and left office as Minnesota claimed the title for having the fourth highest state debt.

    June 7, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  16. Marty, FL

    As another plain ole politician, Pawlenty may not want to throw stones in glass houses. Tim was not exactly honest when he lied by attacking American middle class workers in December. Politifact rated Pawlenty's nonsense as "pants on fire."

    In addition, Pawlenty hardly had the courage to do what's right when he robbed the good people of MN from having a second US Senator for an over-extended period of time–taxation without representation for the sake of his partisan politics.

    June 7, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  17. jen

    shut up tim. you failed the people of minnesota. your nothing but trash.

    obama/biden 2012

    June 7, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  18. T'sah from Virginia

    ["...President Obama does not tell the truth or have the courage to lead."]
    The "statements" these RIGHT Repubs make really make my heart BLEED!!
    So Pawlenty states our President LIES – that is HARSH and untrue!!
    PoorLENTY also states he has NO COURAGE – he’s got that all misconstrued!

    PoorLENTY – Oh, so his new approach is “Truth and Courage” not HOPE!!
    Better step back with that CRAP because now you walk a “TightROPE!!

    Obama/Biden 2012!!!

    June 7, 2011 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  19. Ron

    As if he has a chance. Bubba, you need to set your sites on the repub primaries. First things first... Then, IF you survive the shots from your fellow republicans, you can take aim at the President.

    June 7, 2011 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  20. kayla

    wanna be

    June 7, 2011 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  21. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    It will take more than a speech on President Obama so why waste your media time talking about him and talk about yourself. People who always talk about someone else use that to deflect from themselves because they don't want you to know who they truly are, in other words they're hiding something.

    June 7, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  22. Monster Zero

    After three years of unemployment, increases in food, gas and nearly everything else that I have to purchase to maintain my family and household, I want anyone other than Obama solely due to his whacky elitist ideologies and lack of attention he has paid to the ECONOMY. A year and a half was wasted on a cumbersome load of a healthcare plan that he himself now gives away waivers to his political friends while it crushes small business. Obama's idea of jobs is government expansion paid for with tax dollars, he just does not seem to understand that Federal regulations and inflated bureaucracy are the helium and hot air to the economic bubbles...we need jobs, NOW!

    I hope it is Romney or Pawlenty, I wouldn't want to vote for Palin but I will if she is the GOP pick!

    June 7, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  23. anthony

    This guy is serious isnt he?
    Haha. Please.
    This guy is delusional if he thinks HIS party isnt responsible for the mess left by their cowboy leader.
    Now we have an intelligent adult at the helm and these guys are gonna grasp at every straw they can to try and make him look bad.

    He might want to worry about getting past PALIN first.
    Then Mittens.
    Then Bat-crazy Bachman.
    Then San-(please dont google me)-torum.

    June 7, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  24. Discernment


    Tim Pawlenty is a fake and conniving used-car salesman that comes at you wearing his Sunday morning church suit and a genteel smile. Ask any middle-class Minnesotan and they will tell you how he played shell games with the state budget and stuck hardworking middle-class citizens (who voted for him) with the corporate-welfare tab.

    June 7, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  25. EddyL


    June 7, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
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