Tim Pawlenty Answers Question About Iran By Talking About Iraq

Via Ben Smith, it’s Tim Pawlenty’s first campaign gaffe:

REPORTER: U.S. foreign policy towards Iran [unintelligible] how would you address contradictions in the U.S? On the one hand we are opposing Iranian policy, but on the other hand by U.S. reconfigurating that part of the world we made Iran dominating Iraq and now we are pinning it on dominating of Pakistan. How would you address this contradiction in our foreign policy?

PAWLENTY: You’re talking about Iran?

REPORTER: Exactly.

PAWLENTY: Yeah, well I think the situation now in Iran is such that Secretary Gates is negotiating with whether the United States military will be there beyond the end of this year. And they’re looking to the Iranians to see if they invite the Americans to stay, invite us to stay. And if they do invite us to stay at some very reduced level I think the United States will be wise, until we make sure that they get to the next level of stability, to accept that invitation. So if Iran makes that invitation by the end of the year, leaving a residual force, a greatly reduced force, but a residual force that would be there for a temporary amount of time. Until they could establish much better air security, until they can develop their intelligence —

REPORTER: You mean Iraq not Iran, because Iran —

PAWLENTY: I’m sorry, Iraq, yes, yes. You said — did you say Iran or Iraq?

Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto, Iran, Iraq.

To be fair, things like this happen on a campaign day every now and then and there was some background noise going on there that may have made it heard for Pawlenty to hear the question correctly (although he did ask if the reporter was talking about Iran before answering). Nonetheless, thanks to YouTube, these things live on forever.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. mantis says:

    Is it just me who thinks the reporter’s original question is nonsense? Iran dominates Iraq and now we want it to dominate Pakistan? We’re dominating Iraq and now we want to dominate Pakistan? What the hell is he asking?

  2. Dan says:

    It’s a wonder anyone can remember what he says long enough to talk about it. Pawlenty is the most forgettable man in Minnesota, which is quite the accomplishment.

  3. wr says:

    It doesn’t matter what he says about Iran. After four days of waffling, the great truth teller came out and said he was for the Ryan plan. Which means he has no chance in a general campaign. Bye, T-Paw.

  4. TG Chicago says:

    Agreed with mantis. “reconfigurating”? Was that Palin in disguise?

  5. Gustopher says:

    It’s not just mishearing the question if Pawlenty is then talking about whether the Iranians invite us to stay. He just flat out got Iraq and Iran mixed up.

    A perfectly normal mistake, and his answer makes sense if you substitute all references to Iran with Iraq, but it’s not mishearing.

  6. labman57 says:

    Alas, Tim did not have Joe Lieberman standing next to him, whispering sweet corrections into his ear.