Ten Questions for Tim Pawlenty

To: Interested Parties
From: Randy Borntrager, Political Director, People For the American Way
Re: Ten Questions for Tim Pawlenty
Date: May 31, 2011

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty threw his hat into the ring as a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination earlier this month. Pawlenty, who built his record in a blue state, is joining other Republican candidates in tacking far to the right in preparation for the primaries.

Here are ten questions that we think Pawlenty ought to answer about his record and his intentions.

  1. In December, you signed a letter declaring your “solidarity” with a number of groups that had recently been condemned by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their roles in spreading lies about gays and lesbians -- including the American Family Association, Liberty Council, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the National Organization for Marriage. These groups were labeled “hate groups” because of their histories of virulent and untrue attacks on gays and lesbians, including statements that:

Did you know about the extremist history of these groups when you signed the letter? Do you think that hate speech against gays and lesbians should be held to a different standard than hate speech against other minority groups?

  1. Last year, you bypassed Minnesota’s normal judicial selection process to appoint the wife of your chief of staff, a former counsel for the far-right  and anti-gay Minnesota Family Council, to the bench. As president, what will you look for in judicial appointees? Will belief in gay rights and the right to an abortion be disqualifiers?
  1. In December, you wrote an op-ed blasting public employee unions, and Politifact gave you a “pants on fire” rating for making up an increase in the number of federal employees during the recession. Do you agree with the efforts of  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and others to combat budget deficits by taking away bargaining rights from teachers and public safety officers? Would you encourage young people today to seek careers in public service?
  1. You have called the United States’ debt “immoral,” but as governor you left Minnesota with one of the highest deficits as percentage of state general fund in the nation. Has your view on public borrowing changed?
  1. You portray yourself as an anti-tax champion…but when you were governor, middle-class Minnesotans saw their tax burdens increase. What would you do to make sure middle class Americans don’t carry the burden of closing the federal deficit? Would you be open to increasing taxes for the rich and closing loopholes that allow corporations to pay fewer taxes than most Americans?
  1. As governor, you appointed an education commissioner who advocated for teaching creationism in public schools. In your view, what is the proper role of the separation of church and state, and what will you do to protect the First Amendment right of all Americans?
  1. You have advocated for overturning Roe v. Wade, the decision that guarantees legal access to abortion in the United States. Do you think that all abortions should be illegal, including those in the cases of rape and incest, and those that protect the life of the pregnant woman? If Roe v. Wade is not overturned, are you committed to the presidential oath of office, which would require you to uphold the constitutionally-protected right to choose?
  1. Along with endorsing the American Family Association, you have appeared on the radio show of its Director of Issues Analysis, Bryan Fischer. Will you condemn Fischer’s hate speech about gays and lesbians, American Indians, African Americans and American Muslims? Were you aware of Fischer’s assertions that:

Do you think it’s appropriate for a prominent figure like yourself to lend legitimacy to the extremism of someone like Fischer?

  1. On Fischer’s program, you told him that if elected president you would reinstate the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevents gay people from serving openly in the military. How would you go about implementing the reinstatement of DADT? What consequences would reinstatement have on our military’s readiness? How will you replace the highly trained personnel who will be discharged under that policy?
  1. You once actively supported regional action to address climate change, and even filmed an environmental commercial. But now, you deny man-made climate change and call your previous positions “stupid.” What happened to bring about your 180 on climate change? Who or what convinced you that vast majority of scientists had misled you when it came to global warming? Has the science behind global warming changed, or just its political expediency?

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