WASHINGTON — Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, addressing head-on his past support for a cap-and-trade system in an interview with conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, said it was a “mistake,” “stupid” and that he’s not going to try to defend it.
“Anybody who’s going to run for this office, or may run, who has been in an executive office has got some clunkers in their record, Laura, mine are fewer and less severe than most.”
Pawlenty at one point was a national leader among Republicans in advocating against climate change for carbon cap-and-trade systems — Ingraham played a commercial Pawlenty recorded with then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano some years ago urging Congress to “deal with the real threat of climate change” and then asked him if it gives him a stomach ache to hear it now.
However, he has since cooled on that position and come to reverse it. In 2009, Pawlenty wrote a letter to Minnesota’s congressional delegation urging them to oppose a cap-and-trade bill. PolitiFact, in a detailed analysis of Pawlenty’s shift in position, rated it a full flip-flop.
Pawlenty is right that many prominent Republicans originally backed some form of cap-and-trade program, including Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who in a similar ad was shown side by side with Nancy Pelosi. Pawlenty’s defense is simple: Everybody makes mistakes, it’s how you own up to them that matters.
And in that defense seems to be a subtle attack that Pawlenty won’t openly say: What about the other candidates, and their skeletons? Mitt Romney and his health care law that served as a model for the national health reform law, for example.
Pawlenty’s full interview with Ingraham is below. The nine-minute interview begins on Libya, and his cap-and-trade comments begin around the 6:30 mark.