Pawlenty: “I’m Sorry” I Once Cared About Climate

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has struggled to distance himself from his old, reality based views on climate change.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5449124047/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Gage Skidmore</a>/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Thursday night’s Republican debate was worth watching if only to see Tim Pawlenty try to talk his way around his previous support for efforts to cut planet-warming emissions. As governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty not only acknowledged that climate change is a problem, but also endorsed a cap-and-trade plan to deal with it. That makes him something of a pariah among other Republicans these days.

In a very “This is Your Life” moment, the Fox debate hosts replayed a 2007 ad that Pawlenty recorded for the Environmental Defense Fund in which he argues for cap and trade as a solution for climate change. When asked to discuss the ad, Pawlenty abashedly replied, “Do we have to?”

After trying to explain that he didn’t actually support cap and trade policy as governor—he just supported the “study” of it—Pawlenty decided to try apologizing:

“I’ve said I was wrong. It was a mistake, and I’m sorry,” Mr. Pawlenty told the Fox television audience, presumably filled with potential Republican primary voters. “You’re going to have a few clunkers in your record, and we all do, and that’s one of mine. I just admit it. I don’t try to duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away. I’m just telling you, I made a mistake.”

Pawlenty has apologized for this before. In March, he told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham that his support for cap-and-trade was a mistake and pointed to other Republican 2012 hopefuls who made similar “mistakes.”

Pawlenty’s flip-flop on climate is probably the most damning among the viable contenders for 2012. He formed the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group as governor to study the impacts of global warming and make policy recommendations. (He later ignored those recommendations.) He was also at the forefront of the effort to get the Midwest Governors Association to sign onto the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. He was even best buddies with a famed Arctic explorer and climate activist.

Pawlenty has been trying to talk his way out of all this ever since he signaled he is running for the Republican nomination. Last night probably didn’t do much to end the questions. Pawlenty will be dealing with this for some time to come.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate