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. B

    Republicans current situation appears to look like the circular firing squad.

    If Obama wins in 2012 it will most likely be by default primarily because of the GOP Historic lineup of Nitwits !

    July 22, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Bill

    The buffoonish Polenta is finished.

    July 22, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. kakaraka

    The answer is, hell no reform to social security and medicare. These programs do not create problems. It's the bush tax cuts to riches, special interests and big oil corporations and useless wars that created this mess. There is no need to reform social security and medicare. People paid into the program all their working life and deserve their benefits. So, if you don't know it, the president's plan for social security and medicare is: HELL NO REFORM TO THEM.

    July 22, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  4. T'sah from Virginia

    Pawlenty to Obama: 'Quit hiding in the basement' over entitlement reform
    Supporters to POORlenty: "Quit pretending you'll be the next President and live in the WH Dorm!!!
    Too many cooks tend to spoil the broth – and I think that YOU should know
    Just take a LQQK at the candidates on the RIGHT – Dang, what a show!!!

    July 22, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. rs

    America to Pawlenty: "Quit giving the farm to the rich".

    July 22, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. EddyL

    The only ENTITLEMENT that needs reform is more taxes for the rich. I earned my social security check, so go screw yourself.

    July 22, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Mikey

    Does this guy just not get it that these negotiations need to be done in private or they will be politicized to death? Let's let the two leaders meet and agree to a framework and then we can see what that is. I love this criticism from people who are either just trying to score cheap political points or are completely clueless about how to get things done.

    Speaking of clueless, does Herb Cain really not understand the Constitution at all? The first amendment isn't there to protect only Christianity (and no other religion) against the secular state. Name me one secular state in the 18th century. That was not what their experience was. It's there to prevent the majority religion from using the power of Government to promote itself over other religions or persecute other faiths (as he appears to be doing). That is what they had experience with and were guarding against. What a completely clueless idiot.

    July 22, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  8. Tony Z

    Is he willing to meet Obama and say those same things? Are is he talking tough from a distance? Remember you talked about RomneyCare until you were on the stage with Mitt. LMAO.

    July 22, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. logic in LA

    Mr Pawlenty – Quiz- Who funds the Social Security trust? answer Recipients- through payroll taxes. Who funds Part A Medicare? answer- workers through payroll deductions. Question- why are Medicare Parts B-C-D underfunded? Because the Republicans voted them in with no revenue to cover them. You call them entitlements- they are We are VERY entitled to them!
    Question- where is the candidate that says he plans to re-fund both systems after they were gutted by Congress for other debt? answer- not in either of the major parties.

    July 22, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. Bill from GA

    When will the 'other side' of entitlement reform be made known? How much will it take to keep Medicare and Social Security afloat?

    A while back, I saw a figure of ..002 (two tenths of a percent) added to Social Security tax (for clarity, 6.4% tax rate rather than 6.2 %, on employer and employee side). The longer we wait, the higher the figure goes.

    We need some facts, not more BS.

    July 22, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Republican Robber Baron

    Oh Tim...if anyone is hiding the basement it would be YOU. Come out of the shadows and just be honest like Ron Paul and admit you people want to END Entitlements altogether. The TRUTH is that the Republicans have always been against Social Security and Medicare from the very beginning...they never even voted for it in the first place except for a handful.

    July 22, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. debbie

    How many times does the American people have to say"Hey Stupid,it,s not an Entitle ment program!!!!!!!!! It is our money,NOT YOURS,MORON Pawlenty!!! Pay for your Republican Wars Yourself,Beavis????

    July 22, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  13. Bill from GA

    Probably one of the main reasons mitt romney is leading the field and paw-boy is bringing up the bottom, is that romney is not a total class-less jerk like paw-boy and most of the other repugs.

    This is NOT an endorsement of mitt.

    July 22, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. sue

    When you Republicans agree to ending the Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy, when you start telling us what loophools for the rich and big corporations your willing to cut, when you start telling us that your willing to cut some of these Tax Credits for the Wealthy, then and only then should this President tell you and America what he plans to do to cut entitlements.........

    July 22, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Irene

    T-Paw go crawl into a hole and STFU. If Obama were standing in front of you you'd slither away like you did at the debate – who'se the coward – hint: it's YOU.

    July 22, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. one voice

    You had a 5% chance before timmy, but now you have ZIP, ZILTCH, NADA...............

    July 22, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Whatever Pawlenty's plan is against President Obama, well it ain't working either because it was Pawlenty who hid in the basement when he had his opportunity to go after Romney but he cowarded down like the coward he is.

    July 22, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. kyle

    He shouldn't have an entitlement plan, why should seniors and the poor pay for mistakes made by the Bush administration, they let the rich run wild, and now the rich should pay.

    July 22, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. lynn

    When the word "entitlements" is used by the GOP it sounds like a Four Letter Word. They weren't entitled to steal it from the SS fund, but did and now it's broke. The seniors are owed their own money back and it's not an entitlement, it's rightfully theirs in the form of Social Security. It's not the government cookie jar.

    July 22, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. V in Chicago

    Milk Toast! Tim is talking big and outrageous to try and stay in the race, but most people have already counted him out. Just because he is not "in the know" about some things, doesn't mean they are not being discussed or dealt with. Never in my 57 years have I heard so many elected officials on an opposing side talk so disrespectful about a sitting President. Even Nixon was treated with more respect than the right is treating Obama and he was a criminal. This is not about politics, this is racism through and through. I am white by the way – and just calling it like I see it.

    July 22, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. banks

    Hahahaha yeh ok
    tough guy put ur pencils and pens back in ur pocket protector and sit dowm and STFU. U will never get the nonination so u tryim to be tough . Please fall back

    July 22, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. Pravaa

    Wait a minute...this guy is calling the President who called the shots on OBL as chicken??? after what he showed on the New Hampshire debate stage vs Romney? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA..>Way to go TPaw...You crack me up.

    July 22, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    This guy is such a lightweight!

    July 22, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  24. Ron

    Paw-len-ty is looking more and more like Paw-emp-ty.

    July 22, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  25. SecedingfromTexas

    And that is exactly why we don't want you.

    July 22, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
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