Well, I thought the vice presidential candidate was going to be Tim Pawlenty. This morning, though, just like George Stephanopolous says, the landscape has changed and now I’m going to go out on a limb and say I don’t know. According to some politicos, McCain’s two other top choices, Mitt Romney and Joe Lieberman, would put two other extraordinarily wealthy men on the ticket — they are also very controversial with the Christian Right.
In contrast, Pawlenty is a no-nonsense, working class guy who comes with very little baggage. It still could be him. So, who is he?
Pawlenty is the second-term Republican governor of Minnesota, the son of a milk truck driver and the married father of two children. While he was raised Catholic, he is now an evangelical Christian. His wife is a former judge and now practices law.
Last week, we took a quick overview of Joe Biden on a number of issues. How does Pawlenty compare?
Well, generally, he scares the beejeezus out of me. He has stated that he would “stand by President Bush even if his approval ratings were at 2%.” He was penalized over $600,000 for illegal fundraising during his first gubernatorial run and for a tremendous “ick” factor, he was quoted recently as saying about his wife, “She loves football, she’ll go to hockey games and now if I could only get her to have sex with me.” How very vice-presidential.
So, here we go. Where does he stand on the big issues?
Tim Pawlenty has a 0% approval rating from NARAL Minnesota and at times, a 100% approval rating from Minnesota Citizens Concerned with Life. He also vetoed a bill on stem cell research. Wonderful. Along with McCain’s 0% rating from NARAL, we would have to enemies of women’s rights in the executive.
On gay rights:
While he voted for a gay rights bill in 1993, he has since backtracked at full speed. He said later that his vote for the bill was a mistake and that he regretted protecting people for just “…simple preferences, for example, of wearing women’s clothing. I don’t know that we need to … use our antidiscrimination laws in Minnesota and nationally to protect that kind of behavior.” How thoughtful.
Along with his strong support of Bush comes Pawlenty’s desire to buck public opinion and a sense of all that his holy by actually ramping up the war in Iraq. He thinks we should send more troops, spend more money and make a bigger commitment to an effort that has proven to be our nation’s biggest foreign policy tragedy since Vietnam. Oh, goody.
On health care:
While some governors, including Oregon’s previous leader, John Kitzhaber, have used their role to introduce new plans to cover thousands of uninsured citizens, Pawlenty has instead just tinkered around the edges. Among the accomplishments he cites are the creation of a website (oh, wow! A website!) about health care in Minnesota and deregulating the health care industry (remember Reagan and the air traffic controllers – like that). How bold!
His big initiatives on education include requiring that students say the pledge of allegiance and mandating teacher and student testing. When he was a state legislator, he voted against a popular initiative that would have reduced class size, as well as other bills that would have expanded early childhood education and intervention programs. As governor, he cut funding for higher education 15% and oversaw a hike in tuition of 45% for state institutions. Yikes!
On the environment:
Man, this is getting depressing. While he says he’s in favor of alternative energy sources, he wants to drill ANWR. He’s touted as one of the best Republican environmentalists, supposedly, but isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron?
In addition to all of this loveliness, he thinks the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy should be permanent.
Time to push even harder for Obama. Really, really hard.