Tim Pawlenty Tells AFA’s Bryan Fischer That He Supports Reinstating DADT

There are few people on the internet full of as much anti-gay bigotry as the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, and sadly it looks like some of the GOP’s Presidential aspirants are going to try to pander to him:

Fischer: If you are asked the question “should CPAC provide a place at the table for an organization like GOProud,” what will you say?

Pawlenty: You know, I am not familiar with that dispute, I have heard it referenced … but I’m not just a fiscal conservative, I’m a social conservative so I can’t speak for CPAC but I can speak for myself and what I believe and I’ve been a strong supporter of the family, pro-life positions, traditional marriage positions – so I’m not sure what that dispute all involves. But whatever it is, I don’t think we should be afraid of telling what I believe and what we believe to whatever audience. We’re trying to make sure we stand what what we believe in and we share it in a way that will hopefully bring more people to our side.

Fischer: Now the Left, and homosexual activists and organizations like GOProud, one of their stated agendas is to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that defines marriage in federal law and for federal purposes as a union of one man and one woman. The Obama administration has made a tepid and pretty ineffective defense of that law – if you become president and that law faces a challenge under your administration, how vigorously will you defend DOMA? What will you do to make sure it’s defended?

Pawlenty: I believe strongly in traditional marriage. I was co-author of the law in Minnesota that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. I’ve been a vocal supporter of an amendment in Minnesota that would put that into our constitution. I hope that the day comes when it is put before the voters of Minnesota. And it’s not just a legal issue; it’s also an important cornerstone for our society and our culture. I mean, families and traditional marriage is so important to that and I don’t believe all other domestic relations should be on the same platform as traditional marriage, I just don’t buy and so I’ve been a strong supporter of traditional marriage. I also think who you appoint to courts in this regard is important and we don’t have litmus tests, so to speak, but we want strict constructionists and people who take a conservative view toward the interpretation of our laws.

Fischer: Now Roe v. Wade is obviously the critical court ruling on the abortion issue – that is a ruling that was issued in 1973 so it seems to me that candidates would have the freedom to comment on whether they thought potential nominees to the Supreme Court, would have the freedom to comment on whether they thought Roe v. Wade was properly decided from a constitutional perspective. A number of sitting Supreme Court justices have commented on the fact that they believe it was poorly decided. So that’s going to be a critical issue, if you have the opportunity to appoint nominees to the federal bench – will you talk explicitly with a nominee to the federal bench about his or her view about whether they think Roe v Wade was properly decided from a constitutional basis, will that be in the nature of a litmus test for you, that question, will you bring it up, will you look for an answer?

Pawlenty: Well, I’ve appointed a lot of judges as the Governor of Minnesota, including at our Supreme Court, appellate court and district court level. For the first time, at least in the modern history and maybe in a long time we now have a small majority of people on our Minnesota Supreme Court we are conservative and strict constructionist. I have confidence in them and how they would approach these issues of how you interpret the law. On the specific issue of Roe. v Wade, when you tell people or ask people to be strict constructionist and you look at the Constitution, to have people say “I’m a strict constructionist” would somehow lead to a decision or a conclusion like Roe v. Wade, I think it was wrongly decided. And if you look at the reasoning behind it and the strict interpretation approach to interpreting the Constitution, I think Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided by the Court. But I have been careful that I appoint people, particularly at the appellate level, that share this strict constructionist philosophy – that at least says to me directly – I didn’t have litmus test – but I do want to know that they share my view and values about the proper role of the court and the interpretation of the law, so we try to get to the bottom of that.

Fischer: One last question, got about forty five seconds left, put you on the hot seat one more time: we just saw the ban on homosexual service in the military repealed, overturned. Conservatives will be working over the next couple of years to see that that ban is reinstated. If you become president in 2012, will you work to reinstate the prohibition on open homosexual service in the military? Would you sign such a prohibition if it got to your desk?

Pawlenty: Bryan, I have been a public and repeat supporter of maintaining Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but if you look at how the combat commanders and the combat units feel about it, the results of those kinds of surveys were different than the ones that were mostly reported in the newspaper and that is something I think we need to pay attention to. But I have been a public supporter of maintaining Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and I would support reinstating it as well.

Okay Governor, if you were ever on my list of acceptable candidates. You are now off it.

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. Kylopod says:

    If Pawlenty gets nominated, the Dems can probably use this against him.

  2. Geek, Esq. says:

    What’s his niche in the GOP primary, the uncharismatic, unknown unprincipled panderer?

    He seems like he’s trying to out-Huckabee Huckabee. Which doesn’t seem like a viable strategy, given that Huck not only has the cultural conservative cred, but also charisma, national profile, and fundraising.

  3. Tony says:

    Makes you feel like you need a shower, doesn’t it?

    There are two possibilities here, I think. The first and, in my view, most likely is that Pawlenty is just being a shameless panderer and doesn’t actually believe maybe 50% of what he’s saying here. Which pretty much means he hasn’t got any testicular fortitude.

    The other option is that he really thinks that it’s going to be a) a good idea and b) a practical going concern to re-instate DADT in a few years time. Which means that he’s a fool. Gays serving openly in the military is pretty much an exemplar of the sort of issue whereby, once the rubicon is crossed, conservatives who opposed the move need to pack up their tents and move on. In order to re-instate DADT two or three years down the line, effectively what you are going to be signing up for is rounding up all the gays who have been serving openly in the interim and throw them out of the armed forces. The notion is ridiculous.

    Basically, he seems to either lack judgement or lack guts. Not very impressive. His line on not really knowing what all the CPAC/GOProud kerfuffle is about doesn’t really ring true either.

    I think there’s a degree to which this points to the fact that potential GOP presidential candidates already face something approaching a Catch 22 situation, in that those who have a fairly moderate profile based on broadly pragmatic executive competence are going to have to make so many dirty compromises in order to get the nomination that by the time it gets to the general, their standing with independent voters is badly compromised. Of course, if the economiy is in a death spiral come election time that may not matter. But it’s still a bad situation.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    “If Pawlenty gets nominated, the Dems can probably use this against him.”

    If Pawlenty gets nominated, the president will cruise to reelection…

  5. Kylopod says:

    @An Interested Party

    What makes you say that?

  6. Davebo says:

    What makes you say that?

    Almost no name recognition.

    Extremely limited fund raising ability.

    Willing to say junk like this just to try to woo the Palinites.

  7. Kylopod says:


    If the economy improves significantly, Obama will probably cruise to reelection, regardless of who’s nominated.

    But if it stays the same or tanks from where it is now, he’ll have a hard time being reelected. But a polarizing figure like Palin is the sort of candidate who might lose even if Obama’s ratings are poor, similar to the way Sharron Angle lost to Reid despite Reid’s unpopularity. Pawlenty is bland, but he’s electable, and if he gets nominated, the entire RNC apparatus and probably most Tea Party groups will fall in behind him, giving him all the funding and resources he needs.

  8. Pug says:

    Is this what Ross Perot meant by that giant sucking sound?