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

Pawlently takes aim at Obama's address to students

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty criticized President Obama's scheduled address to public school children.

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. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    So Governor Pawlenty, by your missive you are saying that a POTUS should not go to a classroom to show concern, offer encouragement and ask for suggestions from students because it's disruptive and unwanted. Or, as I suspect, is it you don't want this POTUS going into a classroom because he might be met with approval?

    Here in Texas I hear people on the radio basically saying that they don't want "THAT" guy talking to their children because it's not appropriate for a President to cause such a disruption in the nornal day-to-day routine of the students.

    For all of you who believe that, I have three words for you........"My Pet Goat."

    September 4, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. Renee

    Ininvited? President Obama doesn't need an invitation to provide a positive message to students. Did Gov. Pawlenty or others say such things when the first Pres. Bush addressed school children? Many presidents have done the same. Makes us wondery why....

    September 4, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. David

    Just when you think these people couldn't become more deranged! Is this REALLY worth the effort and time and outrageous crap they're spewing? It's sickening beyond belief!

    September 4, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Jackie in Dallas

    Yes, Pawlenty, but it was fine when George W. sat in classrooms or when George Sr. addressed classes nationwide? How disruptive was that?

    I think Romney's remarks are much more appropriate.

    September 4, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Beverly - NYC

    OMG the President wants to encourage kids to study and stay in school who does he think he is? Pawlenty and all 2012 seekers can stop the phony outrage , we know why you're trying like to keep future voters as dumb as possible, the blue haired 19% can't be kept on life support forever.

    September 4, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. Molly B

    Tama, IA

    That's the only word for Pawlenty's comments:

    Out rageous !!!

    September 4, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. Mary

    This is disgusting and totally self serving. Why report on this?

    When did it become a bad thing for school children to hear the president speak. These right wing crazies are so susceptible to the media, CNN you should be ashamed of all the coverage your are giving this garbage.

    September 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  8. Ashley

    What's that? An address by the President of the United States? You're right, students shouldn't be exposed to that kind of thing AT ALL. Never mind that the most important man in the world has paused to give them (non-voters) some consideration.

    September 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  9. Kathy S. Cloughn

    Take care of Minnesota, Tim. You and your ilk have put us way deep in the hole so spend your paid time getting us out!

    Disgruntled Minnesotan!

    September 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. Mark

    You stand up for nodody but your little cronies, Pawlenty. You and your republican cronies are the Party of FAIL and you are desparate to paint your adversaries that same way. Misery loves company.

    Perhaps we should have behaved the same way in the early '90s when George Herbert Walker Bush made a speech to the kids.

    You know what this is really about, right wingers.

    September 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. amy

    Ridiculous! If this is the best Republicans can do in a thinly veiled attempt to voice their bigoted dissent, then they are much worse off than we had even imagined.

    September 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Bill

    Jealosy has no place, Mr. Pawlenty. You've got no chance but need to fill the news space so you go about shooting that empty mouth.

    September 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. SS

    I'm am sick to my stomach at the trash talking racist media does on Obama.These people think that acceptance of a black president means the sky is falling.Sure, when Bush was in office people had opposing opinions, I doubt they lit up torches, h...eaded for the White House, crying you are brainwashing our children w/ political agenda, no instead we viewed our president Bush "teaching the childrens", while watching the WTC get taken down. These people say they are nervous about the president talking to their children, that's nothing compared to how nervous people were with our last president, everyday since 9/11...

    September 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. CR

    Republicans are showing themselves to be small, petty, and narrow-minded.

    September 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Janet

    I think it's a wonderful idea that our president wants to encourage school kids to stay in school and work hard. Why is this a bad thing? It's nice that he would take time out of his busy schedule for this. He's showing the kids that he thinks they are important. There are so many foolish, mean spirited people in this country. President Obama is only trying to do good things. He hasn't done anything to warrant the kind of nastiness coming from Republicans. Now I know the prerequisite to becoming a Republican. A small mind and an abundance of malice.

    September 4, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. Rob

    Just like most republicans, GROW UP! All the things in the world that need to be improved and all the people who need help and the RP can do nothing but reduce themselves down to acting like children

    September 4, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  17. Lynda/Minnesota

    Tim Pawlenty showing his great leadership qualities...

    This article is a true indicator as to why Pawlenty could never be re-elected as governor again in Minnesota, and should never be considered a viable candidate for president of the United States.

    How utterly childish the GOPers have become. I really think that many of these idiots might learn a lesson or two from their own children not only in classroom behavior, but general ethics as well.

    If the GOP thinks they are diminishing the Obama presidency with this nonsense, they are very wrong. It only serves to prove just how low this party of fools has dropped in the esteem of the - majority - in this country we all live in.

    I thank God Mr. Obama is above all this chatter, and instead has shown more grace and courage to which those on the right will NEVER achieve.

    September 4, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  18. bradford

    Where was Pawlenty when President Regan did the same thing preaching don't do drugs? Or when President Bush did after 9/11 So is it ok when a Republican does it, but not when a Democrat does it?

    September 4, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |

    B oy do the repucklicans forget the past, what about their greatest prez in history Ronald Reagan telling the kids about his tax plan oh thats right he was a repucklican it's ok

    September 4, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. Jill-IN

    This is an absolutely absurd position for Tim Pawlenty! I would be thrilled if the President spoke to our school children about working hard and determination to get good grades and looking to the future. It is NOT disruptive, it would NOT be uninvited, and it WOULD BE inspirational. I think it is high time all of the Senate and Congress stood up against this kind of rhetoric and stand with President of the United States to push back on some of these extreme views. Where is the guts – where is the leadership out there!

    September 4, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. kima

    There is no end in sight to the stupidity of the GOP.

    September 4, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. Rachel

    We should all make a point to laugh at these clowns next week after President addresses the students. Then we will know that President Obama was merely offered a positive message to students to stay in school and work hard. And to accuse Obama of injecting politics?!

    Pawlenty is a governor acting this way?! It is shameful behavior.

    September 4, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  23. Anupam

    This is another example of the GOP out of touch and out of mind with the mood of the public. The next thing that Pawlenty will say that the President cannot address the nation and that the people of this country should do it on a voluntary basis by getting Obama's speech off You Tube!! Mr. President, you have the overwhelming support of the American public. This is the right thing to do to address the nation's students. We are 100% behind you and just ignore the barking dogs.

    September 4, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. 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 thy afraid that in a few minutes, Obama can undo their efforts to teach their children at home and in school? Are they 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 others have done in the past – and as much as I dislike Bush, GHW Bush even had a "Freedom Plan" for students to study, but 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 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. Smart American

    He is the President, during 9/11 Bush was reading to kids. BIG DEAL GET A LIFE. He is our President, we voted for him

    September 4, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
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