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. carlo

    Pawlenty, S.t.F. up.

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. dona

    OMG! These people have lost their freakin minds! Can we say paranoid conservatives???? I did not think they could get any worse but they are falling further and further into some parallel univers. Faux News at its best–exactly who is destroying this country??? Have the republicans no shame at all???

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. Ann Marie

    I would just like everyone to honestly answer this question: If George W. Bush were addressing your children and there were lines such as "what can you do to help George W. Bush" would you be alright with it?

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. Nero

    The president of the united states wants to encourage kids to work hard and stay in school and they are fighting him on that! It's insane. George Bush did the exact same thing and nobody minded. If a Republican president wanted to do the same thing today, this wouldn't be an issue. Some republicans just can't accept that we have a Democrat for President and are fighting him even when he does things that even a Republican President can do. These republicans have a double standard. They are ridculous and TOTALLY irrational. It would almost be funny if their wasn't so many of them. Some of them say that they are afraid to live in the US right now with him as president. If a Democrat were to say that when Bush was in office, Republicans would be screaming that they were Anti-American. Well, what are you crazy Republicans today! And I don't mean all Republicans. I know their are sane ones that wonder what in the hell all you irrational Rush Limbaugh loving fools are thinking! Think for yourself, don't let Rush think for you!

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. jeff Clemetson

    I can't believe this BS. I was certainly no fan of Bush but would have never considered objecting to a speech by the President of the United States aimed at children that told them to be more responsible about their grades. I think the GOP is using what Chuck D of Public Enemy so perfectly described as "Fear of a Black Planet" to rile their mostly WASP base. Despicable is the closest word to describe this balony.

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. brian in mesa

    Another Republican that thinks Democrats should not talk to children? This is news?

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. Nancy

    It is a sad day when a President is criticized for speaking to students. Shame on you conservatives. The election is over – you can vote again in less then 4 years quit making everything an actionable issue. If you recall when the planes hit on 9/11 President Bush was reading to school children which by the way shows the children they are important. There was no controversy then as there should not be now. The classroom is the perfect forum to tell children to work hard and set goals. This is turning into a country of hatred and misinformation instead of fact checking and real issues. And conservative America wonders why children lack respect for authority. Maybe it is because they learned it at home.

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. Faith Harmon

    Republicans are unbelievable!! They should be working on solutions to the nation's problems instead of attacking the president for encouraging students to work hard and stay in school!!! I just don't get it!!

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. kristin

    "...if people would like to hear his message they can, on a voluntary basis, go to YouTube or some other source and get it," [Pawlenty] told reporters at the Minnesota State fair.

    It's already voluntary, you stupid failure. No one's child is being forced to watch Obama's address. Don't like it? Ask for your child to do homework in the cafeteria or library. And two, it's disruptive? Yeah, encouraging our nation's children to get a good education is really disruptive. Is this man seriously in a position of power?

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. Eric

    So Mr. Pawlenty thinks students should drop out of school? And what, become bums like him?

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  11. Brian

    I think CNN gets it right today–these Republicans are "wingnuts."

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  12. Buck12

    Obama makes me sick to my stomach. As socialists popularized with T-shirts in 03 regarding Bush, "Obama: Not my President". I was hoping Obama could unify this country but he has shown time and time again with his socialist agenda that he's polarizing this country much worse than Bush ever did.

    Keep doing what you're doing Obama, you've just about guaranteed a Republican president in the 2012 election.

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  13. Dave

    Now, Republicans are against free speech! What is wrong with them? What has happened to common decency and civility?

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  14. Bob Frusha

    I'm a republican. I don't care for President Obama's policies; however, his message to children should be assumed to be positive, just as Republican President George H.W. Bush's was when he delivered his message to the children. So, for Goveror Pawlenty and others who think this is politics; shut up and get on with real business. Democrats whined about Bush's address; now Republicans are whining about Obama's address. Both sides' fears and adverse comments are unfounded and unwelcomed. Just look at how much airtime and e-time we're burning up over this non-issue. Go out and solve a real fricking problem; this ain't one of them.

    September 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  15. Rich

    It's crazy how Republicans just blindly attack Obama at every end. Do they think this is what the American people really want. I'm all for criticism but when do they start actually making argument and presenting an alternative instead of just attacking whatever Obama says or does?

    They do realize that Reagan and Bush both addressed school children. This is not a new precedent for the Commander of Chief. Really all of this blind hatred really just shows how out of touch they are with the fact that US Citizens have real problems with unemployment, housing and healthcare. They would rather do everything they can to make Obama fail then to actually be part of the solution. It's just really, really sad.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  16. chill

    What is the matter with these people? I've never heard such a ridiculous fuss about nothing in my life. The President is going to encourage children to work hard in school and achieve and this is bad? I'm incredulous that supposedly sane people can devise a conspiracy out of all this. I guess it confirms the fact that our educational system has failed if these parents aren't any brighter than this. As for Governor Pawlenty, he certainly has no excuse and should be ashamed of himself for feeding this trumped up divisiveness for politics. It's disgusting.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. CC

    But it was ok when Reagan did it in the late 80's?? Writing a letter to the President might get the kids on a mailing list?? Seriously, I could think of some far out BS, but come on. So our President shouldn't tell kids to stay in school and try to get them involved with planning their own futures?? This just further shows that no matter what this president does, the GOP will come out against it. Way to teach your kids to appreciate current events or actually listening instead of following the parent's ideas of what should be taught.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Fola

    These people are foolish and gullible. For crying out loud, show some respect for our president.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  19. Steve-O

    Pawlenty suggests exactly what's wrong with modern media: that we SHOULD pre-filter information by tuning in only to those media channels that will deliver messages we emotionally agree with. Now, we've got parents and politicians who are OFFENDED to hear any media source that is not pre-filtered.

    This is book-burning in the digital age. We should seek a truth that it is actually true, not one that is convenient.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. Don

    Screw the Conservatives and the Repugs. They are simply trying to create more fear and distrust.
    We need less distrust and more confidence in our leadership.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. Not Left or Right but Forward

    It is amazing to hear the rabid right come out against a speech by the POTUS to students in which he is going to encourage them to stay in school and aspire to the highest level of education they can achieve. What do these people fear? Are tehy afraid that in a few minutes, Obama can undo their efforts to teach their children at home and in school? Are tehy afraid that in a few short inutes (20 tops) that Obama will somehow transform their future right wing white Christian boys and girls into Islamic-loving socialists who will show up at Sunday dinner with a black boyfriend/grlfriend/gay partner? If your values and teachings are worth a cent, they will withstand anything Obama can say in 20-minutes, and if they cannot withstand the words of encouragement to stay in school and work hard, then they are pretty pathetic.

    The remark by one of the Texas Stooges last night that "Maybe we just think a little different down here," reeked of the old George Wallace reaction to Civil Rights workers. Sure there's no overtly racist reasons coming out of their mouths, but this is nothing that Bush, Reagan and a host of otehrs have done in the past – and as much as I dislike Bush, I'd insist my son go to school to participate if he showed up. This is patently stupid, it is anti-education/anti-intelligent, and solely based on insecurity and fear.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Carol

    The news reports that the Republican, President Bush forced himself on school children by delivering a speech in which he told them they should say no to drugs. It seems that a speech delivered to school children by President Obama telling them they should take individual responsibility for the education is equivalent and more benign, in that it is less value laiden. People in this country should be much more concerned about the school drop out rate, the inability to obtain employment without technical education beyond high school, and the lack of awareness on the part of young students that they must take individual responsibility for their education and may suffer the rest of their life if they don't. This debate is not about a problem in suggesting to students that they be responsible. It appears that there is some other tacit agenda.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Myles Johnson

    If it is OK for Bush and Reagan than why is it not ok for President Obama.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. S M R

    Just another WEAK argument by the desperate Republicans. This CLOWN supports teachings by Right-wing parents to thier children consisting of LIES ,HATE and FEARS.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  25. Margaret Cook

    Disgusting. How can we expect other countries to respect our country and our President if we can't.

    September 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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