June 28th, 2009
02:40 PM ET
6 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. Paul from Kissimmee

    The way Obama's taking this country right now, I believe people will wake up. Just remember, Carter's disastrous term brought on Reagonism, which this country will need once again.

    June 28, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. The Truth, Green

    I think Bev is either dillutional or is denying the truth. When John Edwards sex scandal came to light, during the DEM Primaries, the press was all over it from MSNBC to CNN to Fox. It was on for about 10 days. When Elliot Spitzer cheated on his wife both the Dems and Reps called on him to resign and he did so, The media covered it for days even sought for the girl in question for interview. But here we are a GOP Governor doing to same thing, and what do I hear from the two GOP interviewed today, "IF HE CAN RECONCILE WITH HIS FAMILY, THE PEOPLE OF S.C. WOULD LOOK AT WHAT HE HAS DONE AND HE SHOULD SERVEOUT HIS REMAINING 18 MONTHS". I call this hypocrisy. The media owe us viewers a duty to call this elected officials out.
    Look at it besides the extramarital affiars, he abandoned his duty post and went to out of the country on tax payers dime to frolic about. He comes back and says, "I have been crying for five days in Argentina". Who buys that crap? only the media and gullible people. What would happen if a military personnel goes AWOL? He would be courtmatialed and thrown out of the military with a dishonorable discharge.
    As most GOP stalwart have said on cable and elsewhere, this will blow over and life will go on.
    What has GodFather Rush L. said about it? Or Micheal Steele. I have heard their voices. They have suddenly gone quiet. If it were a DEM Governor, they would be on the air saying all sorts.

    June 28, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Jenn

    How strange that when a Republican strays from the path of absolute purity, the entire party must be said to have done so. But when a Democrat strays, it is only the one person and he is usually just patted on the head and we are told that "boys will be boys". I say the hypocrites are on the left and they are so totally incapable of seeing the faults in their own people and party that all they are capable of doing is screaming "foul" when other people. The double standard leaves me with only contempt.

    June 28, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. Mike S.

    "Republicans need to return to their values."

    It's too late. A majority of Americans now realize those "values" are just designed to get votes. Once in office they do the opposite.

    June 28, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Thom

    Once again it appears that power corrupts, and absolute power, corrupts absolutely. This is true regardless of your political party affiliation. It is up to the people for whom this government was created and who exercise their right to vote to get engaged in the political process and demand better candidates for public office. Until this happens, both parties will feel free to continue with "business as usual."

    June 28, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. Jacob

    Jenn, Tim Pawlenty is a Republican talking about the damage Sanford has done, not so liberal freakazoid. We know not to kick someone when they are down, as the GOP clearly is right now.

    June 28, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Vocal Majority

    The Republicans have no values.

    June 28, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. didi

    what do you expect when there is whole bunch of people like John Boehner who do not talk any sense nor do have any brain.....It is a way these brainless people represent GOP...........and its demise.....period..

    June 28, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Susan

    I'd rather have a tax-and-spend President than someone who merely spends the country into oblivion! The only way OUT of the inherited deficit will be taxes, people. That doesn't make Obama anything but wise. The country can't declare bankruptcy and start over as citizens can. We have to tighten our belts and pay down the deficit left by your revered war-monger, pay-my-friends-not-to-honor-their-war-contracts Bush.

    And to those who think we need Reagan back...he was the first to call for nuclear disarmament. And I guarantee, if a Republican is somehow elected in 2012, he/she will not leave with a balanced budget.

    June 28, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. kgeukes

    And this is news because someone finally figured out that the Repubs are toast????

    June 28, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. bill

    Gov. Pawlenty has not done "damage" to the Republican party by his comments. The Republican party themselves have done the "damage" by their "do as I say, not as I do" attitude.

    Their religious right, always right, leaning to the right, and right, right, right attitude has kept them in trouble.

    They need to look at themselves in the mirror.

    June 28, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Eric of Reseda

    Those who make the shallow argument, "Gee when the Dems do it, it's no big thing. But if a GOP'er does it, everybody goes nuts!" The substantial difference is, Newt Gingrich and the entire Republican Party spent BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars and YEARS diverting money and energy in an attemot to bring Clinton down for an affair because the GOP is the Party of Family Values and courts all the 'good Christian' suckers out there who fall for their crap in excahnge for a vote. The Dems seem to understand that issues like infidelity, while tragic on a personal level, are NOT political issues. SO, in light of the GOP making such issues political, campaigning on them, you better believe we take pleasure in seeing the TRUTH come out about these so-call 'good Christian' GOP 'leaders'.

    June 28, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Dennis CALI

    "Republicans need to return to their values."

    Like suppression of free thinking, promotion of dogma, fear mongering, dividing the country, acting righteous, and being hypocritical.

    June 28, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. gl, Pittsburgh

    John King the Repubicans chairman. I never watch his show just come to comment. JOHN KING REPUBLICANS SHOW!

    June 28, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. Brian

    Yeah, Bev... the last Republican administration did such a good job with the economy... And I don't know what you were watching during the Edwards affair (no pun intended), but it was all OVER the press, including the "liberal" media which ostensibly favors Democrats over Republicans. We heard about it ad nauseum, on Rush, on Fox; in fact, YOU'RE STILL TALKING ABOUT IT.

    June 28, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. rebekah

    Sanford wanted Clinton impeached for his indiscretion...but he was so full of moral virtue that he had an affair for a year ( unlike Clinton) ...and now does not believe he should resign his post... so much for conservative values

    June 28, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Joe

    He's just glad competition was removed...

    June 28, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Ryan

    The comments on here are so hilarious. When democrats cheat, you never hear the end of it. When republicans cheat it is always a family issue that should be kept in the family. It's a great age we live in when we can keep the past sound bites from all the republican hate talkers and how they rail against the democrats that cheat but say nothing about republicans.

    You know those cheaters like

    Newt , Bob livingston, Sanford, Mark Foley, Ensign, Henry Hyde, Bob Barr,John Mccain. Should I stop?

    June 28, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. Deb in Northglenn, Co

    Oh, please, Jenn – "absolute purity"? Republicans condemn Democrats every day for not believing as the Right does. Because I choose not to use my religious beliefs to justify my political beliefs I am judged as immoral. When the Right gets the religion out of their political spiel, maybe the personal failings of very human individuals will cease to be relevant to political discouse.

    The Right needs to stay out of people's personal lives and contribute to fixing the mess this country is in. Don't pontificate about correct moral behaviour and no one will be laughing at the hypocrisy of Republican elected officials.

    Sanford's affair should be between him and his wife. Leaving the state he was elected to govern without a way to be reached or delegating to the lt-governaor is another issue and must be dealt with by the voters of S.C.

    June 28, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. Tanya Kujath

    It doesn't really what party anyone belongs to every one is human and subject not to be perfect and make mistakes that can and will hurt their political carrier. However the problem for the GOP is this they are always preaching about family values and how morally corrupt the left is. Maybe if the pot stopped calling the kettle black more republican humans would be less vulnerable to such human scrutiny.

    June 28, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    Sanford should quit, but he won't. Fortunately, he is a lame duck.

    He won't have a chance at the presidency because our young people (like me at age 67) are too sav vy to let it happen.

    We need MATURE people in government.

    June 28, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Barkley in WV

    You said it, Mike! The holier than thou value thing is a huge scam to getr votes. Wake up, Republicans, Karl Rove is using religion for the GOP!!
    I hope this country has enough intelligence to keep the GOP out of control!!!!!

    June 28, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. Earl

    Dick Cheney (torture & outing CIA agent), Rumsfield (rebuilding Iraq), Bush (Just plain dumber than a bag of hammers), Gonzales (intellectually in over his head), Newt (asking for divorce from his wife while she is in the hospital, very ill), The hammer (as crooked as a side winder), Rush (a fat blob of drug addiction and stupity thrives), Idaho toe tapper, the governor who loves banging his married support staff, the argentinian love monger, ORielly and his attempt at infomercial aka news program. Palin (oh my god!), Hasselback (the view of what?) The blond idiot the notion that blondes do not have a clue what is going on! Republicans dead in the water? What an understatement! And this rant does not even cover 1/100th of the misery the republicans have racked on America. I say good riddence and so long to the republican party. The biggest threat to American freedom and success the republican party.

    June 28, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Sen. Kennedy

    Those darn Republican hypocrites...

    June 28, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Donald Reif, Jr.

    Governor: It's easy to get back.....quit pontificating about the Republicans being the only ones who are in favor of family values and quit projecting this image of moral superiority. Simple as that.

    June 28, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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