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Pawlenty slams Bachmann on experience: 'She doesn't have it'

July 19, 2011|By Maeve Reston
  • Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Rep. Michele Bachmann, his rival for the GOP presidential nomination, lacks the executive experience to be president.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Rep. Michele Bachmann, his rival… (Alex Brandon / Associated…)

Reporting from Marshalltown, Iowa — Adding some fire to his rivalry with his home-state colleague, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday that Michele Bachmann did not have the requisite executive experience to be elected president in 2012.

Though he has campaigned intensively here for many months, Pawlenty has been overshadowed recently by the Minnesota congresswoman, who has shot up in the polls. But Pawlenty warned against putting too much stock in Bachmann’s surge.

“You can’t measure these things in one moment in time,” said Pawlenty, who served as Minnesota’s governor from 2002 until January. “It unfolds over a long period of time and many months. . . . The sentiment almost always shifts and the early sentiment is almost always wrong.”

After taking questions from Iowa voters in Marshalltown on Tuesday, Pawlenty directly questioned Bachmann’s credentials -- stating that experience running “a large enterprise under difficult and challenging circumstances with a public component to it and driving it to results” was “a necessary prerequisite” to being president of the United States.

“She doesn’t have it,” Pawlenty said of that experience, speaking to reporters at the Marshalltown Public Library in the midst of his “Road to Results” RV tour through Iowa. 

The former governor predicted Bachmann would have difficulty getting elected: “I don’t think the country’s going to do that again. They learned the lesson of big speeches and no experience with Barack Obama and it didn’t work.”     

Amid questions about whether he would be able to raise money to support his campaign in the event of a weak finish in next month’s Ames Straw Poll, Pawlenty refuted the notion that this is a “make-or-break” moment for his campaign. He came in sixth of eight candidates in a recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Bachmann leading the pack.

“Our goal between now and Ames, which is less than 30 days away, is to move from back of the pack to at least towards the front of the pack,” he said.

“We don’t have to win it, but we have to show good progress and I’m confident that we will.” At the same time, he said, if his campaign is “in last place or close to last place, then we’ll have think about it some more. But our goal in 30 days is to show significant progress.”

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