A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Pawlenty Not ‘Ashamed’ Now


Tim Pawlenty's repeated claim that he "won" Minnesota's 2005 government shutdown is inconsistent with his view at the time. Shortly after the state budget crisis had been resolved, Pawlenty — then governor of Minnesota — said that "anybody who tries to spin this as a partisan victory should be ashamed of himself."

Pawlenty, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, has boasted he "won" the 2005 shutdown in two TV ads — most recently in "The American Comeback," which began airing in Iowa on July 20.

Pawlenty TV ad, July 20: I shut down a government, and won.

Previously, the Pawlenty campaign depicted the ex-governor as the winner of the 2005 shutdown in an ad titled "Results, Not Rhetoric," which was released on June 30.

Pawlenty TV ad, June 30: Minnesota government shut down. Why? Because Tim Pawlenty would not accept Democrats' massive tax and spending demands. Result? Pawlenty won.

However, Pawlenty had a significantly different view of the shutdown after it ended. As reported by local CBS affiliate WCCO-TV in Minnesota, Pawlenty expressed empathy for the difficulty caused by the shutdown and contempt for anybody "who tries to spin this as a partisan victory."

The Associated Press, in an article dated July 13, 2005, said Pawlenty made his remarks at a press conference on the same day he signed what the news service described as "a 'lights on' bill that temporarily restarted state government." (WCCO-TV in the video mistakenly labels the press conference as occurring in 2007.)

Pawlenty, July 13, 2005: Given what the state’s been through, anybody who tries to spin this as a partisan victory should be ashamed of himself or herself.

It's true that Pawlenty's refusal to accept Democratic proposals to raise taxes on upper-income residents helped cause the government shutdown. And it is true that the final budget included no such tax increases. However, as we've written about before, the final budget deal included a 75-cent-per-pack cigarette tax proposed by Pawlenty in an attempt to avoid the shutdown — despite having taken a pledge to not raise taxes. Pawlenty called the tax a "health impact fee."

— Dave Bloom