June 28th, 2009
02:40 PM ET
9 years ago

Pawlenty: GOP's 'clearly' been damaged

WASHINGTON (CNN) – With two prominent Republicans falling prey to sexual scandals in as many weeks, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty candidly conceded Sunday that his party is in trouble.

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.

“If you’re going to be, for example, the party of fiscal discipline and be the person who’s talking about fiscal responsibility, then you better do that. Hypocrisy doesn’t sell. And, the Republicans have to be true to their values, true to their principles and walk the walk.”

After appearing to criticize some in his own party, Pawlenty was quick to take the edge off that harsher tone.

“Now, we live in a world where people aren’t perfect. . . There’s going to be dumb things that happen, sad things that happen, heartbreaking things that happen. So we can’t expect perfection.”

Filed under: GOP • Jenny Sanford • Mark Sanford • Popular Posts • State of the Union • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Mark Ramsey MD, Milwaukee WI

    This is not about kicking someone when they are down. This is about right wing zealots who say gays are threatening the institution of marriage while they are out having extramarrital affairs! They are hypocrits and liars!

    June 28, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. david

    GOP damage began when mccain selected palin since then it has been downhill for the GOP. if GOP can't get their act together by EOY 2009, obama wins a second term. governor sanford needs to resign, senator ensign of NV needs to resign and any other GOP politicians that keep screwing up royally. rush needs to shut his pie hole as does newt otherwise the GOP will be down to just the 20 million, or so, palin supporters.

    June 28, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Fla.

    First of all, the Republican Party is NOT the party of fiscal discipline. They have no credibility in that regard after the past several years.

    Also, Gov. Pawlenty only adds to the sad & troubling state of his GOP by denying the good people of MN their second US Senator over Republican games. His obstructive nonsense equates to nothing more than taxation without representation.

    June 28, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Chipster

    Paul from Kissimmee, the LAST thing this country need is Reagonism: Voodoo Economics, deregulation of the airlines, discarding truth in advertising laws, seizing property of "suspected" drug dealers without judicial warrants (sound familiar?)...Ed Meese, who claimed that no one would be a suspect if they weren't guilty! Well, he said that until HE was a suspect.

    Just Say No? That isn't a policy. It's a cliche.

    Cutting school funding using deceptive practices, like declaring catsup is a vegetable?

    Reagonism? No thanks, Bush was horrible but not as dangerous as Reagon because Reagon was charming and capable of making great speeches.

    June 28, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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