September 4th, 2009
03:11 PM ET
11 years ago

Pawlently takes aim at Obama's address to students

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty criticized President Obama's scheduled address to public school children."]

(CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is adding his voice to the growing conservative chorus criticizing President Obama's scheduled address to public school children next week.

Pawlenty, who since announcing he was not seeking a third term as governor earlier this summer has stepped up his criticism of the president, said Friday the classroom is no place to show a video address from Obama.

"At a minimum it's disruptive, number two, it's uninvited and number three, if people would like to hear his message they can, on a voluntary basis, go to YouTube or some other source and get it. I don't think he needs to force it upon the nation's school children," he told reporters at the Minnesota State fair.

The governor also objected to the Department of Education's initial encouragement of school children to write the president with their thoughts on what they can do to help him. Amid criticism, the proposal was dropped.

"There are going to be questions about - well, what are they are going to do with those names and is that for the purpose of a mailing list?" Pawlenty said.

The Democratic National Committee called the comments 'outrageous.'

Pawlenty's remarks are the latest in a series of critical comments the governor has directed at Obama over the last few months, as he begins to take a more visible role in his party in advance of a possible White House bid.

"It is time we stand up to President Obama," Pawlenty said to members of the Republican National Committee last month, one of several speaking engagements at GOP and conservative-backed events. "It is time we stand up for our principles, and it is time we stand up for the American people."

Last month, Pawlenty was also keynote speaker at a major dinner hosted by the Republican Party of Florida. In July, he addressed top party members at a Republican National Committee conference in San Diego. Next month, the governor heads back to California, as a featured speaker at the Western Conservative Political Action Conference.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, thought to be another potential White House hopeful, issues a more measured statement to Obama's planned address.

"If the president wants to encourage students to stay in school and study, that's appropriate," he said. "However, he should be careful not to cross the line to discuss political issues or policy matters."

Filed under: Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. sean

    Republicans are making themselves irrelavant! As to Pawlenty: Adjust your tin-foil hat!

    September 4, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    I would hate for kids to be indoctrinated into the socialist beliefs of studying hard and staying in school. Isn't that something that the Chinese do?

    September 4, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. Dodie

    Okay, I get it, you DON'T think your kids should stay in school. NO?
    OKay, you DON'T want your kids to become educated, contributing members of society. NO? that's not it either. Okay, you really DON'T think your kids should do their homework. NO? You want your kids to drop out of school before they graduate. NO? You DON'T want your kids to be able to compete with the children in other countries, its just fine for them to flip burgers at McD's for the rest of their lives. Let the Chinese, Indian, European, South AMerican kids, ANY other kids do the real work. NO?, thats not it either? You really do want the best for your kids? Then What in the world is wrong with you!!! Why on earth would you not want the President of the United STates, the most powerful, wonderful nation in the world give them a pep talk that makes them feel like an important part of their own future! ARE YOU ALL NJUTS!!!!!

    September 4, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Biased

    The Democratic National Committee called the comments 'outrageous.'

    Anything anyone says against Obama is always considered as such. Unfortunately the criticism leveled against Bush was fair game because Democrats did it, one is allowed to be the least negative about Obama ever. I wonder how long it will be before the first cry of racism is uttered?

    September 4, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. Molly Weasley

    Ronald Reagan talked to school kids and mentioned gun policy. That wasn't political? George H.W. Bush talked to kids right before the 1992 election. That wasn't political? George W. Bush also spoke to kids, but I guess that was a proper use of time and money?

    According to these Republicans and right wingnuts, every time Obama opens his mouth about anything, it must be wrong. They start screaming "socialism!"

    It's our constitutional duty to respect the office of the president, even if we didn't vote for him or we don't support him. Yes, it's perfectly acceptable to ask kids to support their country - and the president. "Helping the country" and "helping the president" means doing things for your country, not supporting a political agenda. Republicans have used this kind of language forever. I don't recall anybody objecting then.

    We need MORE people encouraging kids to get involved and do better in school.

    My kids did this letter-writing kind of thing in school in multiple grades, and they always enjoyed reading those letters later.

    The lies from the right wing are going so far over the top, it's sickening. And too many Americans choose to believe a stupid viral e-mail instead of finding out what's actually true. And CNN and the rest of the media just parrot whatever Republicans say without any context.

    I really don't know how Republicans can sleep at night with all of the lies they're telling.

    September 4, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Heather

    I am thrilled that President Obama is taking it upon himself to talk to the nations younger generation. I am stick and tired of "stuck in their ways" baby boomers telling the younger generation what to do, how to think, and what to watch. I think it is awesome that President Obama is talking to the nations youth in the classroom. He wouldn't have to make this speech to those who are in school if parents would step up and take initiative to make sure their kids stay in school. The younger generation got the president its times for the old farts, racists, and "do nothing" republicans to shut up and ship out! This is our country now!

    September 4, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. T Mckinley

    Have any of these paranoid nut cases, so afraid of our President's alleged "socialist agenda," actually READ the speech that our President is going to give yet?

    Or are they just ASSUMING, as always, that our President is going to use this opportunity to push his alleged, "far left-wing socialist agenda" down our students throats?

    You people do know how to spell ASS-U-ME don't you?

    The speech is going to be made available online Monday. Why don't we all read the speech first, BEFORE jumping to any conclusions.

    Or...are we far more interested in spreading PROPAGANDA, then we are at finding out the truth?

    September 4, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. Joker

    The lessons plans are well written and appropriate. The children are being given an opportunity to hear a speech directed at them by the President. My understanding is the President is not "injecting" his doctrine, he is encouraging the children to excell in school.

    I think some adults need a dictionary so they can look up "socialist." On the plus side, their drama classes are paying off.

    September 4, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. jason

    I would not say that by inquiring about the intent of the letters as being in relation to a "mailing list" would be deemed as mockery, given that the White House has already proven that they can not manage their correspondence via email properlly. I am a life long democrat and was a faithful CNN supporter and advocate untiil recently. I thought that I would go back to your site today just to check the stories – and I see one titled "Republican Mocks..." – and I have to tell you that I will not be back to CNN for my news until you report things without bias.

    September 4, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. Mike

    I would hate to have my precious angels hear that they should stay in school and study hard, that's practically telling them to be Chinese!

    September 4, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. Tom

    Barack Obama is the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. He deserves our respect. This is also our kid's President. I am appauled at the amount of disrespect coming from Mr. Pawlenty.

    How about this GOP...instead of "standing up against Obama," how about you choose another tactic and try working with him. Who knows, it may actually be beneficial politically to be the first set of leaders to get something done in awhile. The american people are tired of washington not because of policy, but because NOTHING seems to get done. Instead of acting like children, be an example for them. Show them that people with differing opinions, ideas, and backgrounds can actually work TOGETHER.

    September 4, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. Mark F.

    Pawlenty and his cohorts are showing p-lenty of ignorance in this criticism as they do with most criticisms of the president. President Obama is not doing anything that has not been done before in speaking to the nation's school children. We are constantly hearing about role models in the form of celebrities such as actors, actresses and athletes and now Pawlenty wants to make us believe that it is a crime for children to receive a message from the world's biggest role model (and he is whether you like him or not, agree with him or not.)? This is one of the most shameful acts of disgrace towards a sitting president that I have ever witnessed. The madness and ignorance must stop.

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. David

    I wish people like this could listen to there own self-centered words, the GOP has certainly become the party that hates America or have they forgotten about free speech. Speak your mind, but please don't tell me what to do, that message is for the GOP. The GOP has become a bitter loser and are losing any direction they had, how about doing something for America for change and help this country.

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  14. John

    how stupid can some people be

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. b nice

    this guy doesn't know what he is talking about. Obama should give his speech to kids. There is no problem there. If a parent has a problem with it, then they are the problem, not the children period!

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Beth

    Republicans make me sad. I don't think I could live my life being so hateful to people who didn't think (or look) the same way I did.

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. Polar Bears Against Palin

    Pawkenty? You are a right-wing idiot.. Go screw yourself, pinhead.

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Derrick

    Ok can the grown people grow up. i do not see anything wrong with President Obama giving a speech to the students. i am a 37 yr old african american from the inner city of chicago. When i was around 8 i remember we had an assingment in class was to write to our president. At that time our president was Ronald Reagan. I was so happy i wrote to the president. I had no idea what democrat or republican meant hell i did not know the real meaning of black and white however i received a picture with the autograph of President Reagan. As a proud democrat today i am proud to say i had an autograph picture from President Reagan. The pettiness needs to stop.

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. i want my finger back

    libs, keep your president's policies out of my children's brain. we do not serve the president, he serves us.

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. tony

    Republicans might not know this, but politicians from time to time will encourage children to be interested in their government and participate in public service. If politicians cannot tell children that they should be interested in public service, because it is not possible for a politician to say or do anything without political motives, then perhaps they should tell children to avoid the career that they themselves have chosen.

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. BJ in NC

    This is a perfect example of the stupidity that we try to teach out children against. This is also a perfect example to anyone who had blinders on, that shows their discontent with the fact that a Black Man is running this country that they think is theirs. For their children to be exposed to the President who they have bad-mouthed in the privacy of thier home, is their greatest fear. At the present time, their children don't know President Obama because they probably turn the channel. Now they can't control the remote control at their children's school and it is driving them crazy. Growing up I was taught that an empty wagon makes the most noise.

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. anti-Darko

    Darko-More Like Wacko. It is just a speech. There is no injecting of doctrine hear. Relax , crazy person Wacko! Go watch the entertainment magazine channel – FOXNEWS!!!

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  23. Greg

    This is just getting ridiculous. I have never seen such hatred and paranoia towards a president in my life. It boils down to two things. The Becks of the world manipulating weak minded conservatives and being parroted by the leaders of the party, which is disgusting in it self. #2, flat out racism. The right has always had a huge problem when a Democrat was in the White House, but it's a black Democrat. They're keeping their base happy, but to the rest of us, the normal people, they look terrible. This is truly a sad time in this country.

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. kdauto

    Reagan gave a speech to the students and all he talked about was lower taxes!! Republicans are so under educated. They dont want smarter kids because all to educated ones go progressive because they figure out how stupid and corrupt the rethuglicans are. We need to get rid of the replucan party completely. they are holding this country back. Let Texas suscede from the union and all republicans can move there and be stupid together!

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  25. russell

    I'm totally baffled ,l what harm is it to push to have kids do better in our schools, if a lot of haven't notice lately but our kids are lagging far behind other kids in the world on education , that's because you Americans are a very spoiled , racist bunch of hypocrits , you never want to be told the truth , If someone's encouraging kids to do better , then what is the problem, what I see with a lot of Americans is that they want to be lied to , and they tend to believe anything that's shoved down their throats , no wonder America is so weak , because a lot of you can't get past the skin color or hate , that you rather see your own country fail ,wow how stupid a; lot of you are including the media CNN,FOX , when your country is over thrown by a foriegn nation , don't sit there and ask yourselves how did this happen ? it's because of American greed and hate for anything that's not white or conservative eventually a lot of you will have to pay the piper , because truth be told , that the chickens are coming home to roost .

    September 4, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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