September 4th, 2009
03:11 PM ET
12 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. Obummer - One and Done

    All the little Obama Youth, must learn that Obama is coolness.

    September 4, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  2. Renee

    I agree with Pawlenty. To those who think Obama is a role model, and want him to instruct or inspire their kids – let them go to YouTube. You can get internet access in any public library, and maybe check out a book while you're there. I'm responsible for my child's life, and education, and frankly, don't see Obama as a person my child should emulate. I'll handle her education, thank you very much. My child will either be opting out of sitting through this speech, or sitting at home on Tuesday.

    September 4, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. m. Floyd

    You people ought to be ashamed! I had thought that the racism I hear in these types of comments had been somewhat diffused but I am sad to say it is not. Never have I ever heard anyone be so hateful to a President of the United States who is trying to motivate our school children to excel.

    September 4, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. timz

    I'm from Minnesota and Tim Pawlenty, all joking aside, makes Jesse Ventura look like a great governor.

    September 4, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    The Governor, and those who hold that poistio, need to find other worthwhile thiiings to worry about. First, ther is nothiikng wrong with motivating our children and encouraging them to stay in school. Also, our forefathers provided for freedom of speech.

    September 4, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. Diane

    I would so much as suggest that the Republicans fear there children will come home from school after hearing Obama's speech adding pressure to Mom and Dad about healthcare.

    Do we all recall that Bush only made speech in "hanger's" telling the troops we are a Nation at War, and thank you so much for giving to your country. That Republicans is all the speech he was able to give and always at our Arm Service Bases. How stupid we were to even allow that war in Iraq, now we have to spend and send our troops where they should have gone first! Afghanistan!

    September 4, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. Jack

    A speech not yet delivered but everyone seems to know the content and find it necessary to offer up their criticism of words yet unspoken. Can you not wait, listen to the speech, and then offer your praise and/or criticism based on the factual content of his spoken word.

    September 4, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. Gary French

    Time to stand up for our principles?

    Arent those what got us in all this trouble in the first place?

    The last thing this country needs is more republican principles.

    September 4, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  9. Mike

    You have got to be kidding me! When I was in school, they stopped class to show the ruling in the OJ Simpson trial. I think school is a great place to show the POTUS when he is reading a speech intended for school children. People need to grow up and find something else to complain about, like unemployment or healthcare, not whether or not the President is going to "disrupt" the classroom. Get a life.

    September 4, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. John

    From the same people that want to force the Bible and other deluded fantasies on our children as if they were facts.

    Of course, the Obama speech will take time away from learning our ultra-nationalist history books, and phys.ed, it's not much of a loss. I suppose that we could start teaching our children hardcore math and science, but then they'd have to move to India or China to get a job.

    September 4, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. Peter Whillicker

    Repukes at it again – drive that spike deeper and deeper... Isn't it time for all the repukes to move to Texas and have Texas secede already? Makes perfect sense to me. There are, after all, Americans and then there are Texans. Time to sharpen the pitchforks, get out "the really big shoe" (ala Ed Sullivan) and kick their pathetic carcasses into Texas...

    September 4, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. KirksNoseHair

    I am so sick and tired of the massive overwhelming hypocrisy of the ReTHUGlican party in this country. The president wants to encourage kids to study hard, do well, etc, and they are criticizing him for it. Morons.

    September 4, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  13. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Shut this guy up! What in hell is the harm in having the President speak to school children?

    What a MORONIC thing to crab about....

    September 4, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  14. Ray Rey

    Pawlenty and the other nay-saying GOP'ers that are being negative about this are completely stirring up political drama and should be ashamed of themselves. Bush Senior did the exact same thing - giving a speech to America's school children - and no one complained then. These phoney conservative king pins are completely manipulating a vulnerable and maliable group of people (typical Red Stater's) to protest this - based on fear and falsehoods - in order to gain control back and get back to their conservative agenda.

    Time to get tough. We need to completely destroy the Republican Party. Let the Libertarians be the other party. At least they are for social freedoms and keeping religion out of politics - and they do not resort to fear tactics.

    September 4, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Anne

    The republicans have lost their minds. When the president is criticized for telling school children to work hard and stay in school we have come to a very ugly place in politics.

    I think it's gut check time for conservatives. How ugly do you really want people to think you are? Because so far the nasty, slimy things that crawl around under rocks are, in comparison, cute and fuzzy next to you.

    September 4, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. S Callahan New York

    Personally, the address issue may be streching the hysteria a little too far but I certainly agree the 'inital' packet was very questionable.
    National news sites is a better forum than schools.

    September 4, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. Roger in CA

    I honestly can't get my head around what is going on in American politics. In a remarkable replay of the early 1990's, the hard-right is throwing an absolute hissy-fit over the fact that a Democrat had the audacity of winning the White House after a decade of Republican mis-management.

    But this profound and fundamental disrespect for the office of the President is new. Whether it was the early, more vague, "hoping" that Obama "fails," to the "Waterloo" crap from a couple months ago, to this craziness about a simple address the President is to make to the nation's schoolchildren, but the GOP and its fellow travellers have truly crossed the line between legitimate political competition to outright unpatrotic scheming.

    They no longer seem to care about the well-being of the United States; they'd rather score political points. The only logicial conclusion of their political rants is overthrowing the government by force or causing personal harm to Barack Obama and/or his family.

    With the exception of a truly SMALL HANDFUL of lunatics on the far-left, no one in the Democratic party or its sympathizers would have ever dreamed of objecting to a President Bush addressing the nation's students (especially in the abstract without ANY knowledge of the content of such a speech). To object (especially in the abstract) that a speech by the President of the United States is (or is even likely to be) "indoctrination" or propoganda or whatever is simply OFFENSIVE. And, yes, this UNPRECEDENTED apoplexy by the right over a legitimate activity by the first Black POTUS is no coincidence: there is ABSOLUTELY a racist undertone to all of this.

    I was no fan of George W Bush, but I would never object to such a speech by him, nor to my children watching or discussing such a speech. I would certainly discuss it afterwards with my children and explain why I disagree with some point or other he may have made, but (short of something truly extremist and outrageous [e.g., proclaiming Christianity as the national religion, maybe?] included in the ACTUAL SPEECH) I wouldn't have any problem with it whatsoever.

    In early November of last year, Barack Hussein Obama was duly elected POTUS in a significant popular and electoral landslide. He is, under the Constitution of the United States, the legitimate holder of the executive power until his first term ends at noon on 1/20/2013.

    GOP: DEAL with it....

    September 4, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. Kahuna

    Did the kids in that Florida classroom have the option of telling Bush they didn't want to hear "My Pet Goat"?

    Really Pawlenty, if you're just going to play GOP poltics as usual, just shut up.

    September 4, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Alan

    What a complete and total buffoon – and a hypocrite. George H.W. Bush did his own address to all students during his own term as President and we NEVER heard this kind of criticism. We don't need politicians – we need statesmen. Politicians care about the next election – statesmen care about the next generation. For the President to encourage children to work hard, get their diploma, go to college, and set goals for themselves is applaudable. Pawlenty is not.

    September 4, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  20. incredulous

    I cannot believe the depths to which these people have sunk. The president, the duly elected commander in chief of this country, wants to encourage students to persevere in school and make educational goals. He is not going to "indoctrinate" anyone. He simply wants to encourage kids to succeed in school, something that is outside the political arena. The hate and mistrust is simply unfathomable. I fear for where we are headed as a nation when every single move the president makes is railed against by these kinds of mindless, malicious attacks.

    September 4, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. Jim

    Ask him if he would allow George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Ronald speak to students?? If he says yes well you an issue about color if says no he reveals his lame brain did he ever get to Gov..??

    September 4, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. Richard in California

    Seriously? Gov. Pawlenty says "It is time we stand up to President Obama". You've got to be kidding. All the Repubs have done since they got crushed in the 2008 elections is pout and throw tantrums. Heaven forbid that they actually offer up real solutions to help the US get back on its feet. Gov. Pawlenty himself was obstructionist-in-chief for failing to put an end to the charade of ex-Senator Coleman in his baseless lawsuits.

    How about offering real solutions to help real people? The GOP will be taken seriously when they stop acting like a spoiled child. The voters in 2008 spanked them hard, but they still haven't received the message. There's always 2010.

    September 4, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. Carol Auburndale, Florida

    I don't see why these people are getting their underwear in such a twist. I think it is wonderful for the President of the United States to address the students. He is trying to encourage children to stay in school and get a good education. Give it a rest. I for one am sick and tired of the conservatives whinning. They had 8 years to make a difference and what did they do? Under fund No Child left behind. That needs to be junked and teachers need to go back to teaching children and forget only teaching them to pass a test.

    September 4, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. Charlie Cafferty

    As a professional educator for over forty years, I can't believe the uproar from republicans and conservatives over the presidents upcoming speech to school children. We have an educational crisis in this country that potentially is more devastating than budget or health care issues. If we don't turn our attention to our schools and kids, we will be left behind by the rest of the developed world. This president is the best example that I can think of to represent the power of a good education.

    I only hope that the majority of Americans are not taken in by these 'scare' and 'hate' tactics that are being put forward by republicans, stirring the pot that could become a breeding ground for the reversal of all the social advances we have made in our history.

    C. Cafferty

    September 4, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  25. lorelei

    This is just pathetic and once again shows the paranoia on the part of these "conservatives". If it was Bush, Cheney or any other repub giving a speech to classrooms, there would be no problem at all. And, even if the speech is about working hard in school and promoting the idea of education, these folks will uncover some hidden meaning that's meant to brainwash their kids into liberalism.

    September 4, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
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