PoliGraph: DNC ad distorts Pawlenty’s comments

Less than a day after Republican Tim Pawlenty announced he’s running for president, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) posted an ad that implies the former governor has no idea why he wants to be in the White House.

Toward the end of the ad, the question, “Why are you running?” flashes across the screen.

Pawlenty’s answer:

“I don’t know,” and “I wish I had a better answer for you.”

The ad takes Pawlenty’s words out of context.

The Evidence

Citing a May 2011 Time magazine article, the ad claims even Pawlenty doesn’t know why he’s running for office.

But here’s the rub: the author of that article asked Pawlenty when he started considering a run for president, not why.

“When I ask Pawlenty… exactly when he decided he was up to the grand challenge of the presidency, he answers in less than grandiose terms, explaining how he’d set up a political-action committee in 2009,” wrote Time reporter Michael Crowley. “I try again, saying I am curious about when he first imagined himself worthy of the history books, ready to send soldiers to their deaths and endure the national stage’s harsh toll. ‘I don’t know,’ he replies. ‘I wish I had a good answer for you on that.’ ”

Crowley wrote on May 23 that the DNC’s ad was a “distortion” of his exchange with Pawlenty.

“Although our conversation touched on Pawlenty’s rationale for running, my questions were after something different,” Crowely wrote. “I was curious to know when Pawlenty, whose strength and weakness is his regular-guy persona, came to think of himself as presidential material.”

The ad is meant to push Pawlenty to define his candidacy, says Alec Gerlach, DNC spokesman.

“Is he running as a tea party candidate, is he running as a moderate, or is he running on his record, which is abysmal?” Gerlach said.

The Verdict

The DNC twists Pawlenty’s words, implying he doesn’t know why he wants to run for president. Pawlenty said he didn’t know when he started thinking of himself as presidential material.

The claim is misleading to the point of being false.

SOURCES

The Democratic National Committee, Ad: Why?, May 23, 2011

YouTube, Tim Pawlenty – A Time For Truth, May 22, 2011

Time Magazine, Pawlenty Makes GOP Bid Official: Is He Too Nice for His Own Good?, Michael Crowley, May

Time: Swampland, What Pawlenty Said, by Michael Crowely, May 23, 2011

Interview, Alec Gerlach, spokesman, Democratic National Committee, May 31, 2011

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