Asked on CNN’s State of the Union how much damage the recent admissions of marital infidelity by Nevada Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford have done to the Republican Party’s already struggling brand, Pawlenty said “it’s hard to quantify that."
“But clearly there’s been damage,” Pawlenty quickly added.
“Anytime you have leading figures who are engaged in behavior that is sad and troubling and hypocritical, other people are going to look at that and say, ‘They don’t walk the walk,’” Pawlenty CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “And so the words and the actions don’t ring true.”
Pawlenty called the situation between Gov. Sanford and his wife, Jenny – the couple is currently separated because of the governor’s extramarital affair – “a sad and troubling situation.”
“I’m proud of Jenny for her strength . . . and, frankly, I was glad to see her not standing at the press conference [where Sanford admitted the affair last week] like many others have and kind of charting her own path.”
And Pawlenty had harsh words for his embattled counterpart in South Carolina.
Sanford “should not have left the state and not allowed people to know how to contact him in case something happened,” Pawlenty told King. “Your staff has to be able to reach you and reach you quickly for all the obvious reasons – natural disaster, terrorism, or other events,” Pawlenty also said.
Asked about the GOP’s relationship with its socially and fiscally conservative base, Pawlenty said Republicans need to return to their values.
(CNN) - After recent confessions of adultery by two Republican politicians, Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday decided against casting the first - or any - stones regarding ethics.
Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Graham, R-South Carolina, went out of his way to avoid any disparaging comments about rival Democrats in terms of family values. When former Massachusetts governor and fellow Republican Mitt Romney spoke of strong families as a core Republican value, Graham quickly interjected on behalf of rival Democrats.
"I don't think Democrats are for dysfunctional families," Graham said, adding that President Barack Obama has been "one of the better role models in the entire country" as a good family man and a good father.
"President Obama has done a lot of good in the way he carries himself and conducts himself" regarding family, Graham said.
His comment followed questions about South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who admitted last week that his disappearance for five days was due to visiting his mistress in Argentina. Earlier this month, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada also admitted to an affair.
Graham said he was godfather to one of Sanford's four sons and that Sanford's top priority must be to reconcile with his wife, Jenny, and keep his family together. If Sanford does that, Graham said, then he believes the governor can serve the rest of his term, which expires in January 2011.
"Mark Sanford's lucky to have Jenny Sanford," Graham said. "I hope he realizes that. I think he does."
(CNN) - Jenny Sanford said Thursday that her husband Mark Sanford's political career is "not a concern of mine" and that she'd be just fine - whether or not their marriage survived.
She would not speculate whether her husband would resign as South Carolina governor.
"His career is not a concern of mine," she told reporters as she departed the family's vacation home in Sullivans Island, South Carolina. "He's going to have to worry about that. I'm worried about my family and the character of my children."