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Ellison says Pawlenty has ‘no connection’ to his blue collar roots

Former guv and future candidate for prez Tim Pawlenty routinely invokes his blue-collar roots in the meatpacking town of South St. Paul. As David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix noted in his review of Pawlenty’s autobiography, Pawlenty doesn’t offer much of an explanation for how this son of a union man turned out to be a pro-corporate Republican.

Dem Congressman Keith Ellison of Minneapolis  takes the analysis to the next level, in an interview with the liberal blog/news site Think Progress, asserting that Pawlenty simply has “no connection” to his blue-collar roots.

Given the ideological/political distance between Pawlenty and Ellison (who served as a Minnesota legislator during the early days of Pawlenty’s gubernatorial tenure), Ellison’s feelings are not surprising, but the comment is pretty tough. Said Ellison to ThinkProgress in re: Pawlenty:

“He’s going to get up there on the course of this presidential campaign and tell you all about how his father was a truck driver in South St. Paul. Well you know what, that was a long time ago. And he has no connection to that any more. And I would only imagine what he would do to the truck drivers of South St. Paul today.

“He doesn’t want to pay them right; he doesn’t want them to have drink (sic) clean water; he doesn’t want their kids going to college — they can go but he doesn’t want to pay for it — he doesn’t really care if they go or not. And so, this is the kind of world that Tim Pawlenty would create.”

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 03/07/2011 - 08:58 am.

    Unless the GOP chooses Tim Pawlenty as a sacrificial lamb in 2012, he has an extremely slim chance of getting the nomination, and even less of being elected President. Many of the true heavyweights in the GOP such as John Thune realize that Obama will be difficult to defeat and are waiting for 2016.

  2. Submitted by Ron Wickley on 03/07/2011 - 09:54 am.

    Excellent comment Solly. John Thune is obviously a heavy weight in American politics with loads of name recognition and a giant national profile. I also agree Obama will definitely be difficult to defeat with the passage of the ultra popular health care law (which has driven down premiums for almost everyone in America) and this amazing high octane economic recovery we’re currently in the middle of (thanks to low oil prices). His closing of Gitmo and getting out of the Middle East will also help his credibility, as they were central themes of his 2008 presidential campaign.

    As for representative Allahu Akbar chastising anyone about losing their connections to American blue collar roots….lol.

  3. Submitted by Tom Rice on 03/07/2011 - 09:56 am.

    Actually rather amusing to hear Keith Ellison, “Champion of the Hood”, accuse another politician of being a poser. Ellison grew up as the prosperous son of two professionals and attended a top tier Catholic college preparatory academy. For this guy to seriously point the finger at another for faking his street cred is a hoot, but then again, so is Keith.

  4. Submitted by Lora Jones on 03/07/2011 - 11:02 am.

    Obviously #3 hasn’t met or talked to Keith. I doubt he’s a constituent. Keith is anything but disingenuous, which is MUCH MORE than I can say for King Tim of the Empty Suit.

    And, just as obviously, #2 must listen to and read much too much RW radio/tv/blogs. Obama WILL be difficult (not impossible, but difficult) to beat in 2012 — despite the slowly improving economy and slowly becoming more popular health care bill. Repubs are hardly covering themselves with glory or positive poll numbers, and have been guilty of potentially fatal over-reach in some cases (read Koch’s pet Scotty dog in WI).

    Finally, sometimes remembering where you come from depends a lot more on being a conscious and compassionate and community-minded student of history. I’ve never been a Union Member. My parents were professionals. One was a Repub. But I am very well aware of what the labor movement AND the progressive movement have given this country — the middle class and pretty much everything else (like clean(er, at least) air and water) that’s worth having. So — damn straight I know where I come from — and it ain’t from no trickle down voodoo.

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 03/07/2011 - 01:11 pm.

    I’m not in the habit of defending Gov Pawlenty, but I’ll ask the question: so what if he’s disconnected from his blue collar roots? Former Sen John Edwards couldn’t go five minutes on the campaign trail without mentioning he was the son of a coal miner, but I don’t recall a lot of people pointing out that it was ‘a long time ago’. Its part of the game; President Obama did the same thing when he talked about his grandparents from Kansas.

  6. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 03/07/2011 - 03:50 pm.

    The issue here isn’t Pawlenty’s citing his blue collar background. Its doing so while supporting policies that favor the rich over blue collar workers. Edwards talked about being the son of a coal miner, but he did that to back up his policies which supported coal miners and other blue collar workers. For Pawlenty, there is no connection between his background and his politics today. The point Ellison is making is that Pawlenty didn’t learn anything from his background.

    The attempt to compare Ellison to Pawlenty is laughable. Ellison may have come from a privileged background (I don’t know that, but I’ll assume its true for purposes of this discussion) but like Edwards, supports policies that benefit blue collar workers. Ellison walks the talk, while Pawlenty doesn’t.

  7. Submitted by Joe Musich on 03/07/2011 - 09:11 pm.

    Psychoanalysis !

  8. Submitted by Steve Rose on 03/08/2011 - 07:49 am.

    “Pawlenty doesn’t offer much of an explanation for how this son of a union man turned out to be a pro-corporate Republican.”

    Eric: Your stereotype union man doesn’t always apply. This son of a union man turned out to be a Republican, just like his father. I too have been a member of a labor union. Those who have not, should take a closer look at is for themselves.

    Ellison can’t get in touch with his working class roots because he never had anyway. BTW #3, I am a constituent.

  9. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 03/08/2011 - 03:10 pm.

    Regarding roots: It’s absolutely NOT necessary to have “blue collar roots” to care about what happens to regular working people (as in the case of Keith Ellison).

    Just because you ostensibly HAVE “blue collar roots” doesn’t mean you give a damn about regular working people (Pawlenty doesn’t).

    It is a lie for Tim Pawlenty to stress his “blue collar roots” as if it gives him a connection to and understanding of the people back home. He’s desperately trying to prove that he’s NOT one of those people, that he’s BETTER than all of those blue collar folks back home (one or more of whom evidently told him he’d never amount to anything). He desperately wants to “make it” but he’s one of those unfortunate individuals who will never feel as if he has.

    Still, he’d better succeed in making it onto the gravy train enjoyed by the idle rich, because he’d NEVER survive in a blue collar job. He’d be one of those people generally described as a “difficult” employee who won’t follow the most routine instructions, insists he has a better way of doing everything he’s supposed to do, causes damage to equipment because he doesn’t follow proper procedures, blames that damage on others, endlessly complains about his fellow employees, if not actively sabotaging them in order to ingratiate himself with management, and refuses to take correction from anyone but the company CEO.

    Of course there are a lot of businesses where someone as good at kissing up to the people with money and power, kicking the people below him, and leaving others holding the bag (as he did the Republicans in Minnesota) as former Gov. Pawlenty is, inevitably ends up in management…

    Is it any wonder American businesses can’t compete?

  10. Submitted by Peter Swanson on 03/08/2011 - 07:57 pm.

    This relies on the belief that GOP positions hurt the poor. The belief may be true or false, but a person can belong to either party and still be trying to support the poor.

    The Teamsters (I assume that’s the union membership of his father we are talking about) have supported Republicans in some elections in the past, so there is no big shock, here. Pawlenty was coming of age right as the Reagan Republicans (often ethnic, blue-collar union members) became a political force.

    His mother’s dying wish was for “Timmy” to go to college. Forgive him, Rep. Ellison, for not working on an assembly line.

    This reminds me of the charge that McCain didn’t understand the Vietnam War because he was held as a POW early on and missed all the protests. Pawlenty’s life experience is real. If he learns different lessons from his life than you have, too bad.

    Attack his policies all you want, but don’t get into this ad hominem stuff.

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