Pawlenty calls out opponents' lack of 'executive experience'
July 21st, 2011
01:35 PM ET
3 years ago

Pawlenty calls out opponents' lack of 'executive experience'

Ames, Iowa (CNN) - Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty continued his appeal for votes on Thursday by playing up his executive experience as the former governor of Minnesota.

And as he faces stubbornly low poll numbers in the Republican race for the White House, the candidate appears to be working to gain more traction by repeatedly highlighting his accomplishments in order to contrast with the shortcomings of his opponents. But he avoids throwing sharp elbows by mentioning names.

The candidate spoke to a small room of voters gathered at a church in Ames, Iowa. It is in this city where a looming, high-stakes political drama will play out. The August 13 Ames Straw Poll will test Pawlenty's popularity, along with that of other GOP candidates.

During his speech, Pawlenty implored the assembled voters to attend the straw poll and support his campaign.

He urged listeners to back "somebody who can actually beat Barack Obama," adding, "Somebody who has the executive experience to have run something large and [has] driven it to results with a public component and so that the rest of the country says, 'Yeah, that person can be president. And that they can actually function.'"

At another point – while slamming the president's past as an Illinois state senator and community organizer – Pawlenty said, "You can't put somebody in the Oval Office who hasn't had executive experience leading a large enterprise."

"We can't make that mistake again," he said, specifically referring to the president.

And at still another point, Pawlenty urged the crowd to carefully "think about the other leading candidates" and whether or not they appeal to just one segment of the Republican Party.

"If we put somebody forward in Iowa, or more broadly in this process, who appeals to one chunk of the coalition but not all of it – we're going to start with a disunited party or an underwhelming effort," Pawlenty said.

He later added: "I ask you to think about it before you launch the rocket out of here, which will be the first step in the process. Make sure it's the rocket that can go all the way to the destination we seek. Everybody's gonna say they can do that. But I got elected and re-elected as a movement conservative in Minnesota."
Pawlenty did not mention names of the "other leading candidates."

But among the other well-known contenders, Rep. Michele Bachmann is a three-term congresswoman – but does not have executive experience in government and gets a considerable amount of her appeal from the tea party movement. She also tops Pawlenty in several recent polls ahead of the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.

Pawlenty recently took a direct shot at Bachmann, saying on NBC's "Meet the Press," "I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I've campaigned for her. I respect her, but her record of accomplishment in Congress is non-existent."

"We're not looking for folks who just have speech capabilities," Pawlenty added. "We're looking for who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I have done that; she hasn't."

Bachmann responded in a statement by saying she'd highlight her accomplishments - and avoid "negativity."
Meanwhile, others in the GOP race such as businessman Herman Cain, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also jockey against Pawlenty for support in the polls – and also lack executive experience in government.

Mitt Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts and Jon Huntsman is the former governor of Utah. But neither is competing as much in Iowa as others such as Bachmann, Paul and Cain.

CNN asked Pawlenty about his opponents' lack of "executive experience" after his speech. The candidate would only repeat his previous comments.

"Well regardless of any particular candidate, I think one of the criteria the American people are going to look for – after the broken promises and failed rhetoric and failed leadership of Barack Obama who had no experience – is this: we want somebody in the Oval Office who has led something, a large enterprise under difficult circumstances and driven it to conclusion and results and have a public component to all of that."

"I think that's the kind of person, and …one of the credentials we need for the next president of the United States."

– Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Peter E

    Pawlenty's executive experience: renaming tax increases as 'increased state fees' to disguise the fact that he was a liberal GOP governor.

    July 21, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. keeth in cali

    Look at the mess he left MN in. What does executive experience matter when you fail at it?

    July 21, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  3. Ken in NC

    "Playing up his executive experience as the former governor of Minnesota?" Look at the mess he left his state in and decide if you want him to do that to this country. President Obama is still fighting to pull us out of this mess GWB put us in back between 2001 and 2009 and Republicans are already fighting to force us off the cliff again now so we don't need another "Former Governor with Executive experience".

    July 21, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. S. In California - Obama 2012

    The candidate spoke to a small room of voters gathered at a church in Ames, Iowa.

    Key word: SMALL. He is by far the most pathetic person running. Poor guy – he just doesn't seem to realize he's not presidential or VP material. He's weak, limited in brains and just plain boring. Sooner or later (probably later) he'll face reality and go home but not back to MN because I hear the people there don't want him back.

    July 21, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    What if you SUCKED as a governor, or a CEO?? Would you still want that person for the job even though their "executive experience" only confirmed that they were NOT suited for the position?
    Let it go man. You sucked then, you'd fare worse anywhere near the Oval Office.
    Obama 2012.

    July 21, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. CaliforniaBC

    He's calling out his rivals but Pawlenty has already shown his gutless nature. Remember his attacks on Romney in interviews and ads but when it came to taking him of face-to-face he couldn't do it. Is that a quality you want in a president??

    July 21, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. Sperry23

    As a Minnesotan, I can attest to Mr. Pawlenty's "executive experience", or lack thereof.

    Minnesota's unprecedented 20-day shutdown is due, in very large part, to the mismanagement by the Executive branch of Minnesota's government. Mr. Pawlenty and his cohorts and sycophants managed to lay the groundwork for the failure of the tax system to support the basic needs of the state. Tax cuts, credits, and exemptions protected the richest of Minnesota's rich (who are also, oddly enough, the largest campaign donors to Mr. Pawlenty's Republican Party), while he and his party viciously cut services and protections for the poor, elderly, handicapped, K-12 students, and those hard-working middle-class people who made Minnesota the envy of the US. Now, thanks to Mr. Pawlenty, we are the laughingstock of the nation.

    We don't need "executives" like Tim Pawlenty. He makes Bernie Madoff and Tom Petters look good.

    July 21, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. harvey 60

    Pawlenty has so much experience, he left Minnesota bankrupt. Just who we need in the WH!

    July 21, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Lee

    Sounds like he is campaigning for Mitt Romney. Romney has executive experience as a governor, chairman of the Olympics, and as a CEO in business. Everywhere he has been was an exercise is crisis control and every time the place was better when he finished than it was before he arrived.

    July 21, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. luffing

    The wheels are indeed beginning to fall off the wagon for the GOP. I'm so grateful for the effort they've made to implode.

    July 21, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. Pyrometman

    I also believe that some governmental executive experience is also helpful but it must also come with a candidate that has new ideas that are going to lead our country out of the financial mess and bring to an end these wars that continue to drag on. Pawlenty want to continue the same policies of previous presidents and that is not enough to lead us out of trouble. I am voting for Ron Paul because he makes sense to me.

    If you look at the photo in this article, Pawlenty is speaking at the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations), a well know group of rich elites and their mainstream media soldiers who exert a lot of influence on policy. Do you want someone who is supported by the people that has caused the problems? ....or do you want someone who is working for the people and is not related to elitist groups like the CFR?

    I feel that the sleeping remnant in this nation is starting to awaken...and I hope to God that it continues.

    July 21, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. SecedingfromTexas

    Wow, the hockey puck is getting desperate.

    July 21, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. FM

    Oh! Tim, you might have executive experience but what did you accomplish? You seem lacking skills of selling what you have!

    July 21, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    "But I got elected and re-elected as a movement conservative in Minnesota."

    Wrong. Pawlenty got elected running as a Moderate in 2002, and, in 2006 narrowly (46.7 to 45.7) beat out the DFL candidate. Included in the race was a strong Independent, taking votes from the DFL candidate, an all too familiar occurrence in Minnesota. Ole Timmy never ran as a Conservative, and only changed his stances when McCain campaigned for Timmy in his 2006 bid. One assumes that McCain soon realized that Timmy wasn't *man* enough, even for the Vice Presidency, thus giving us $arah Palin. It was after Palin replaced Pawlenty on the V.P. ticket that Pawlenty began his conservative roots BS, setting his cap on the Presidency. Go figure. Meanwhile, google Minnesota buget 2002-2010 and see for yourselves what his conservative road-block has accomplished. Caution: It ain't pretty.

    July 21, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    "But I got elected and re-elected as a movement conservative in Minnesota."

    Wrong. Pawlenty got elected running as a Moderate in 2002, and, in 2006 narrowly (46.7 to 45.7) beat out the DFL candidate. Included in the race was a strong Independent, taking votes from the DFL candidate, an all too familiar occurrence in Minnesota. Ole Timmy never ran as a Conservative, and only changed his stances when McCain campaigned for Timmy in his 2006 bid. One assumes that McCain soon realized that Timmy wasn't *man* enough, even for the Vice Presidency, thus giving us $arah Palin. It was after Palin replaced Pawlenty on the V.P. ticket that Pawlenty began his conservative roots BS, setting his cap on the Presidency. Go figure. Meanwhile, google Minnesota buget 2002-2010 and see for yourselves what his conservative road-block has accomplished. Caution: It ain't pretty.

    July 21, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
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