Oops! Pawlenty Corrects Diane Sawyer's Factual Error

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn) with Diane Sawyer on 8/28/2008 GMA | NewsBusters.orgIf a media personality is to attack a political figure for lack of experience one would expect this person to get the facts correct. That is what Diane Sawyer failed to do on the August 28 edition of "Good Morning America." After guest Minnesota Governor and potential McCain running mate Tim Pawlenty noted Barack Obama’s lack of experience, Sawyer sought to level the playing field claiming Pawlenty, as a possible vice presidential candidate, has "only been governor for two years."

On the air, Pawlenty corrected Sawyer reminding her that he has actually been a governor for six years. Sawyer immediately retracted telling the Minnesota governor "thanks for correcting me there. I in meant to say six years and thank you for the truth squad there on your own."

Earlier in the interview when questioning about McCain’s potential running mate Sawyer asked "do you think in your view that the vice presidential choice for John McCain must be pro-life?" Oddly, the mainstream media never seems to question Democrats if their vice presidential choice "must be pro-choice."

The transcript follows.

DIANE SAWYER: And what about the Republican reaction to all of this? Joining us now Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and as you've probably heard his name is on the short list for vice president for John McCain. Good morning to you, governor.

MINNESOTA GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY: Good morning, how are you?

SAWYER: I'm great. I want to ask you about this because it's news of the day. There are reports that John McCain even at 11:00 tomorrow morning is going to announce vice president. First of all, do you know this for a fact? Have you heard this? Have you been in contact with him, and is it you?

PAWLENTY: Well, I've certainly heard it through news accounts he's having a rally in Ohio tomorrow and speculation is he'll unveil his vice presidential running mate there. But beyond that I don't have much I can add or say about the vice presidential issue.

SAWYER: Any conversations with him? Have you had any at all about your being the one?

PAWLENTY: Well Diane, I can't -- I just can't address that and don't address it, but we'll all know very soon.

SAWYER: You leave me very intrigued here. Just a quick question on this front because another question that was raised recently was the question of being pro-life or not. Do you think in your view that the vice presidential choice for John McCain must be pro-life?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think Senator McCain has said he wants an administration particularly senior leaders that reflect his values and principles and vision for the country. He, of course, is a pro-life person. But he also has said we don't have litmus tests but does want an administration that reflects his priorities and values so that will be up to him and I think he'll pick people who share his agenda and his views.

SAWYER: Let me get back to the Democratic Convention. Last night as we said former President Bill Clinton did seem to close that door on questions about whether the Clintons think Barack Obama is ready to be commander in chief. Let's play a bite from last night.

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Barack obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world. Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States.

SAWYER: And last night we heard the Democrats say that on key issues in this complex new globe that Barack Obama has been right and John McCain has been wrong. Your reaction?

PAWLENTY: Well, my goodness it's amazing that we're three days into the Democratic Convention and 60 or so days away from the actual election and they're still trying to plead with the American people or convince us that Barack Obama is ready to be president. The fact of the matter, he is not. President Clinton had 12 years as governor as an executive and commander in chief of the National Guard before he became president and Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden all said during the primary season Barack Obama was not ready. Bill Clinton called it a roll of the dice. Joe Biden said he wasn't ready for the job as did Hillary Clinton and so for them to now say he's ready with great enthusiasm is quite hypocritical at least inconsistent with what they said previously. As to Senator Biden and Senator Obama's judgment, the record is replete with the fact they've made a lot of errors in judgment and John McCain has been a steady hand on the throttle.

SAWYER: But on the questions of resume, you know, some Democrats have said you're the same age as Barack Obama. You've been governor for just two years. You were in the state legislature. He was in the state legislature. Does this raise questions about your qualifications to be a heartbeat away from commander in chief?

PAWLENTY: Well, setting aside the issue of vice president, Diane, I've been governor for six years and commander in chief of the Minnesota National Guard for six years. When I was in the legislature I was also majority leader and did a variety of other things. But the questions continue to be, what have you done and what have you run? His accomplishments are nonexistent or essentially nonexistent and he hasn't run anything. He hasn't been an executive or been in charge of anything and lastly, the big problem or one of the big problems facing our country is the ability to work across party lines and get things done. John McCain actually has a record in that regard. Barack Obama does not. He has good oratory but when you shut the teleprompter off there's not much else there.

SAWYER: Thanks for correcting me there. I in meant to say six years and thank you for the truth squad there on your own. Let me ask you one more question about the stadium here. We heard earlier David Plouffe saying that they're here because they want to open up outside the party, bring other people in. In any sense, does the McCain camp think, "well, gee, we envy the enthusiasm of 70,000 people in an arena like this"?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think it just feeds right into what Americans are starting to realize that this is really about celebrity and not much substance. This Roman-like facade or facade with Roman columns is a perfect metaphor or icon for the point that it's an interesting production but behind it there's not much there and so, you know, it's almost like he wants to come out and be somebody called it the other day emperor like in the setting, at least the facade. So I think it feeds into the big hoopla, the big production that it's about celebrity, it's about entertainment but as with the facade there's not much behind it.

SAWYER: Well, thank you again for giving the McCain point of view this morning. Governor, good to talk to you. We'll be watching tomorrow.