Pawlenty to Obama: 'Quit hiding in the basement' over entitlement reform
July 22nd, 2011
01:59 PM ET
3 years ago

Pawlenty to Obama: 'Quit hiding in the basement' over entitlement reform

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – In an exclusive CNN interview, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty unleashed unusually caustic language against President Obama on Friday, claiming the president is "ducking, bobbing and weaving" to avoid offering specifics on entitlement reform.

Pawlenty made the comments to CNN Anchor and Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley in an interview to be aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

The former Minnesota governor used a blistering metaphor to suggest the president is going to great lengths to avoid public scrutiny on the issue.

"If you're the leader of the free world would you please come to the microphone and quit hiding in the basement about your proposals. And come on up and address the American people," Pawlenty said.

"Is he chicken?" the former governor quipped.

It's unclear if Pawlenty's tough talk is intentionally designed to combat, what some see as, a nice-guy image or if the amped-up comments are designed to raise his stubbornly low poll numbers in the Republican presidential race.

Pawlenty has also recently blasted fellow GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney.

Pawlenty told Crowley he's long urged leaders to better manage cash flow to avoid the "false choice" between a default and raising the debt ceiling.

"We need real permanent structural reforms," Pawlenty said, adding that he'd push for the Cut, Cap and Balance plan if he were president. That plan, after passing in the House earlier this week, failed to clear the Senate on Friday. It would have tied a debt ceiling increase to sweeping reductions in federal spending, caps on future expenditures, and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

When the conversation between Crowley and Pawlenty turned to reforming the nation's massive and costly entitlement programs, Pawlenty used some of his harshest language.

"Where is his specific Medicaid reform proposal?" Pawlenty said of the president. "Where is his specific Medicare reform proposal? Where is his Social Security reform proposal? The answer is: he doesn't have one. You can't find him publicly talking about that. He's ducking, he's bobbing, he's weaving, he's not leading and that's not the kind of president we need. And that's why he needs to be removed from office."

Crowley pressed Pawlenty, saying that apparently, the president has spoken with House Speaker John Boehner privately about some of these proposals.

"If we want to do it in private we can go down to the VFW basement – I can go have a beer with my neighbor over that," Pawlenty said.  "He's the president.  Come on out of the basement. And come on out to the lawn of the White House or the microphone and tell us your plan on entitlement reform. And he won't do it because he doesn't have the courage to do it."

– Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Tim Pawlenty • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Aaron

    At least we know Pawlenty's stand. Cut social security and Medicare, give the savings in tax breaks to the rich and corporations.

    July 22, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. Laverne

    Shut the hell up Pawlenty! You are such a loser and will never be your party's nominee. You are a coward for starters and the most passive-aggressive candidate in the bunch. You can't even admit to the things you say when asked after you say them. Who need a punk as commander in chief!

    July 22, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. jen

    What a SCHMUCK!! if only you can go back and crawl under big rock Pawlenty the LIAR! No-one will miss you!

    July 22, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Silent Majority

    Or he doesn't plan to reform "entitlements," also known as the three programs that keep the poor, the sick, and the elderly out of poverty. Now why wouldn't the president want to touch that...?

    July 22, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. thomas

    One mans basement is another mans White House !

    Tim Pawlenty /Louie Gohmert 2012

    July 22, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. James

    Pawlenty: A Minnesota criminal hoping for the opportunity to steal from a larger group of people. But I like the way that he admits that he and hiis cohorts can't do their job without Obama holding their hands.

    July 22, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Bruce

    We can dispense with this guy...he's just trying to save his campaign.

    July 22, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    First he has look at the mirror say the following
    “Quit hiding in the basement” "ducking, bobbing and weaving"

    In CNN debate, CNN gave the platform what he wants to say when its come “Obamneycare” he didn’t open his mouth so who is "ducking, bobbing and weaving

    July 22, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. NYC REPUB

    Obama 2012!!!!

    July 22, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. a in austin

    You speak so boldly when it is one on one but retreat when standing with others like you...you are no leader!

    July 22, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. S. In California - Obama 2012

    Mr. President IF you are really smart you will ignore this little man/child. He is desperate for ANY attention he can get – and at this point he doesn't care how he gets it. Do the American people a favor and get on with the real business. We want the debt ceiling raised. Most of us are not in the mood for this. We elected you for results not back and forth name calling. Please ignore this childish outburst.
    Thank you.

    July 22, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. Dave

    All this guy does now is bash people in interviews then take it back when confronted. If this is your best game, you should drop out of the race now. You don't hold an elected position, therefore you aren't privy to the conversations going on behind closed doors. If you get more than 5% in a poll then feel free to ask for a seat at the table. Until then be quiet.

    July 22, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. A SURPLUS = REVENUES - EXPENDITURES

    WOW – just wow. There is just so much unbelievable, laughable nonsense from Pawlenty in this interview. Let me see if I can stick to the cerebral voids
    - – - – - – - – -
    Pawlenty told Crowley he's long urged leaders to better manage cash flow to avoid the "false choice" between a default and raising the debt ceiling.
    - – - – - – - – -

    Tim, a "false choice" means that you DON'T have to choose. So you are saying we will not default if we do not raise the debt ceiling? Now I see how your financial shell games left your successor holding a $6B bag of def-a-kate. You and Bachmann must have graduated from the same school of finance.

    Each and every month we borrow some portion of the expendiutures that CONGRESS [not the President] has authorized. I guess, like Bachmann, you too say we only have to pay the interest on our debt. WRONG – we have to retires some principle also for any bonds meeting maturity.

    Come the 1st of the month, try only paying the "interest" on your home mortgage and not the small amount of principle. I guarantee that the bank will find you in DEFAULT of your loan obligation.

    To say that this is a "false choice" reveals how out of touch you are, sir!

    July 22, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Dean

    It's not that Obama doesn't have the courage to present a proposal...he doesn't have the brains to create one.

    July 22, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. john oluwa

    Is this coming frm the same guy who left minnesota huge deficit,who was afraid to confront mit romney during the debate,but attack romney behind his bk at fox noise.The 64thousand dollar question is what will happen if he sees obama face to face

    July 22, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. jk from MN

    YOu did your share of ducking issues in MN, ex-Gov. I'd say you are the pot calling the kettle black. What a Hypocrite!

    July 22, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Deeb

    Seriously? This chump has the gall to call the President chicken? Dude....you're lucky anyone will remember your name in the next month or so after you drop out of a race you really aren't a part of in the first place. This so called "tough talk" from a nobody like you is pathetic. CHICKEN THAT!!

    July 22, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. Kwesoe

    The so-called Cut, Cap & Balance proposal is not Pawlenty's idea. Pawlenty is not an original thinker. Instead he lashes on to other people's ideas because he has no plans of his own. Talk about hypocrisy.

    July 22, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. maikl

    You ask from Obama to lead.?It' s like ask elephant To fly.He never did and never will. Experiment is over. We need experience PRESIDENT.

    July 22, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. NES500B

    What world does pawlenty live in? His state was unable to balance their budget for a month and shut down. That does not happen overnight. Another mouthpiece without substance. Where are the jobs promised in 2010?

    July 22, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Beverly - NYC

    Where is his specific Medicaid reform proposal?" Timmy if you're going to be President you should know what the responsibilities of the 3 branches of government are. If the President could reform entitlements on his own I'm sure it would be done. Please consult the cartoon " I'm Just a Bill" before opening you pie hole again. Your polling numbers are the only thing in the basement. Have they risen to 3% yet ? I guess when you're trailing Sarah Palin you have to say something to keep yourself relevant.

    July 22, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    Anyone who believes (a) that specifics aren't being discussed in the debt ceiling/deficit negotiations and (b) that those specifics are purposefully being kept under wraps by both parties because it would only cause hissy fits with their bases that neither party needs....should have their head examined. Just follow T-Paw to the clinic.

    July 22, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Name

    This dude is a sad case!!!!!!!i

    July 22, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    The Governer must be getting desparate. He's losing his manners and respect for others. See ya'. Been nice knowin' ya'.

    July 22, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. The Greedy Old Pigs have lost their minds!

    If anyone knows about "hiding in the basement" it's Little Timmy. He tosses barbs at his opponents when he's not around (much like some of our righty trolls her on PT) yet when he meets his opponents face to face he's suddenly quiet and submissive. Oh yeah, his poll numbers are heading into the basement as well.

    July 22, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
1 2 3