Pawlenty Attacks Bachmann, Says She Has 'Nonexistent' Record

Yahoo Contributor Network

Republican presidential contender and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has again taken to national television to deliver a barely veiled attack against one of his Republican colleagues. On NBC's "Meet The Press," Pawlenty said that although he admired Rep. Michele Bachmann, she had no record of accomplishment.

"I like Congresswoman Bachmann," the former governor said. "I've campaigned for her. I respect her. But her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent."

Pawlenty, who has launched a political ad campaign noting it was "Time For The Truth," said Bachmann gave good speeches, but she had done little else while in public office.

"We're not looking for folks who just have speech capabilities," he told "Meet The Press" today. "We're looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I have done that, she hasn't."

But the efficacy of that conclusion can be debated. The people of Minnesota were rather unhappy with their two-term governor by the time he left office in early 2011. A Public Policy Polling survey from Dec. 26, just a week before Pawlenty left office, saw him with a disapproval rate of 53 percent (as opposed to a 43 percent approval rate). A Rasmussen poll taken in mid-October showed his approval-disapproval rating even at 49 percent.

Part of the problem was Pawlenty's policies that somehow balanced the budget while increasing the overall state debt, leaving Minnesota with a debt of $5 billion.

Yet, Pawlenty might have a point. Bachmann's most important piece of sponsored legislation seems to be a bill designed to protect incandescent light bulbs from being phased out of existence by green legislation.

But she has proven a force to be reckoned with in the 2012 field of Republican contenders. Her showing at the first Republican Presidential debate in early June quickly catapulted her into a second-place position in the preference polls among the GOP electorate, movement that the Pawlenty camp has failed to see in their own campaign.

Part of the reason why may be attached to other comments made on national television just before the debate. Pawlenty, appearing on CBS' "Face The Nation" the day before Republican debate, called the unpopular national Health Care Reforms "Obamneycare" in a clever combining of names to seemingly connect the national health care reforms with those supported and signed into law by fellow GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, who was governor at the time.

But when asked about such a connection during the debate, with Romney standing just feet away, Pawlenty refused to draw the connection, choosing to state that he was only using President Obama's words as basis for his comment. Reviews of the debate afterward noted that the moment where Pawlenty could have confronted and perhaps established himself quickly faded as Pawlenty wilted and refused to bolster his position against health care reform or maintain that Romney's connection to health care was akin to the programs set up by the national reforms.

Both Bachmann and Romney are frontrunners in recent national and some state polls, including Iowa, where the first caucus of the primary season will be held in February. Pawlenty, who has been seen as somewhat bland and a political nice guy, has found it difficult to gather speed and pick up poll numbers in the first couple months of his nascent presidential campaign.

But future poll numbers can determine financial backing for a long campaign and he knows it. Having lost ground with his milquetoast response to confrontation at the debate, perhaps Pawlenty feels confident that attacking Bachmann now will help his chances in the race, maybe even positioning him to make a good showing in the Iowa Straw Poll in August.

Otherwise, it might be time for the truth that Pawlenty's chances of becoming president in 2012 are non-existent.

View Comments (15)