Juan Williams Channels Chris Matthews, Grills Pawlenty on Evolution in Debate

During Thursday night's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, Fox News contributor Juan Williams moved away from the pressing issues of national security and the economy to ask former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty: "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution, as the basis for what should be taught in our nation's schools?"

Perhaps Williams had caught the end of Thursday's Hardball on MSNBC only hours earlier, when, as NewsBusters Scott Whitlock reported, host Chris Matthews listed some of the questions he would like to ask the Republican presidential hopefuls, including: "Question to Mr. Candidate, do you believe in evolution? Are you a fundamentalist who believes in the Bible as written? Has man been around millions of years or, say, just about 6000?"

In the debate, Williams avoided such inflammatory language, but pressed: "Do you personally equate a faith-based theory with scientific inquiry?" Pawlenty responded: "The approach we took in Minnesota is to say that there should be room in the curriculum for study of Intelligent Design. Didn't necessarily need to be in science class, it could be in a comparative theory class. But we didn't decide that at the state level. We left that up to the local school districts, and the communities, and parents in that area. I think that's a reasonable and appropriate approach."

After Pawlenty went on to give some thoughts on a previous question about the role of unions, Williams followed up by arguing: "I understand, Governor, but you didn't answer my question about what you believe about teaching creationism in the schools. What do you believe, Governor?" Pawlenty reiterated: "I believe that should be left up to parents and local school districts and not to states or the federal government."

Hopefully Matthews was watching Fox News Thursday night, he must have been thrilled.

Here is a transcript of Williams's exchange with Pawlenty:

10:03PM ET

(...)

JUAN WILLIAMS: Governor Pawlenty, when you served as governor of Minnesota you named an education commissioner who equated the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution. Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution, as the basis for what should be taught in our nation's schools? And I ask that in this sense, do you personally equate a faith-based theory with scientific inquiry?

TIM PAWLENTY: Well, Juan, the approach we took in Minnesota is to say that there should be room in the curriculum for study of Intelligent Design. Didn't necessarily need to be in science class, it could be in a comparative theory class. But we didn't decide that at the state level. We left that up to the local school districts, and the communities, and parents in that area. I think that's a reasonable and appropriate approach.

If I might just add something relating to your previous question. You know, I grew up in a meat-packing town, as I mentioned earlier, I was in a union for seven years. My family is a union family. My brothers and sisters, many of them work in unions to this day or have worked in unions. And so I understand this issue. We're not against hardworking men and women. They need jobs in this country.

What we're against is government intervening in the market and with businesses to the point where they say, 'We're not even growing jobs any more because the government's discouraging us so much, making it so expensive, delaying it so often, we're just out of the job market and that's the absolute wrong direction. And it's not about bashing unions. It's about being pro-job. And you can't be pro-job and anti-business, that's like being pro-egg and anti-chicken, it doesn't work.

WILLIAMS: I understand, Governor, but you didn't answer my question about what you believe about teaching creationism in the schools. What do you believe, Governor?

PAWLENTY: I believe that should be left up to parents and local school districts and not to states or the federal government.

(...)
 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC