Tim Pawlenty Says He Would Reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Right Wing Watch’s Kyle Mantyla points out that former governor and potential presidential contender Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) has moved to the right of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on his support for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, telling anti-gay radio host Bryan Fischer yesterday that he would support reinstating the ban:

FISCHER: One last question, got about forty five seconds left, put you on the hot seat one more time: we just saw the ban on homosexual service in the military repealed, overturned. Conservatives will be working over the next couple of years to see that that ban is reinstated. If you become president in 2012, will you work to reinstate the prohibition on open homosexual service in the military? Would you sign such a prohibition if it got to your desk?

PAWLENTY: Bryan, I have been a public and repeat supporter of maintaining Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but if you look at how the combat commanders and the combat units feel about it, the results of those kinds of surveys were different than the ones that were mostly reported in the newspaper and that is something I think we need to pay attention to. But I have been a public supporter of maintaining Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and I would support reinstating it as well.

Watch it (starting 4:05):

Pawlenty’s position is surprising since even McCain — who led the Republican opposition to lifting the ban in the Senate — has said he would support implementation of repeal since it’s now the law of the land. “I think I have to do everything I can to make sure that the impact on the morale, retention, recruitment and battle effectiveness of the military is minimized as much as possible,” McCain said on Fox Business. “It is a law and I have to do whatever I can to help the men and women who are serving, particularly in combat, cope with this new situation. I will do everything I can to make it work.”

It’s also unclear how reinstating the policy would work operationally. Bringing back the policy would require gay servicemembers who come out after repeal is certified to suddenly go back into the closet or face discharge. Straight soldiers would also have to pretend they did not know about the sexual orientation of formerly-out gay members.

Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.