Facing pressure from Republican primary voters, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty attempted to apologize during last night’s GOP debate for his past support of cap and trade, the climate change legislation that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
While mainstream news outlets accepted Pawlenty’s apology and wondered if primary voters would do the same, it largely went ignored that Pawlenty never actually apologized for supporting climate legislation. In fact, in an attempt to duck, bob, weave, and explain away his previous support for cap and trade, Pawlenty only apologized for supporting researching cap and trade, ignoring his support for the legislation itself:
WALLACE: You now say that that was a ‘dumb mistake,’ but weren’t you in fact far more committed to cap and trade over those years than you now let on?
PAWLENTY: Chris, what I said to you on that day, and what I’ve said many other times, is this: We did consider and sign into law legislation in Minnesota that would study cap and trade, but we didn’t impose it. We signed up to look at it, to review, to study it, to join with other states, to look at it. And we did. And what I concluded subsequently is it’s really a bad idea. And this is not in the last six months. I sent a letter to Congress I think about two years ago, and at other times have said, ‘I was wrong, it was a mistake, and I’m sorry.’ It’s ham-fisted, it’s going to be harmful to the economy. […]
I just admitted it. I don’t try to duck it, bob it, weave it, explain it away. I’m just telling you, I made a mistake. I look the American people in the eye and say I made a mistake. And I’ve opposed that cap and trade approach since.
Pawlenty is attempting to convince voters that, upon receiving studies about cap and trade, he “concluded subsequently” to oppose the policy. The reality is, he only concluded he needed to oppose cap and trade much later, when the GOP platform no longer included room for supporters of a policy that was originally a Republican idea.
As ThinkProgress has reported, Pawlenty has an extensive record of actively supporting cap and trade and other climate change initiatives. He signed multiple pieces of legislation calling for greenhouse gas reduction, including one that called for an 80 percent reduction in Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In 2008, he recorded a radio ad in which he declared, “Cap greenhouse gas polution now!” It wasn’t until 2009, when Pawlenty was busy trying to make a name for himself on the national scene, that he backed away from his support for the policy.
Pawlenty failed to address any of this last night, misleading voters to believe his support for cap and trade ended in the exploratory phase. His apology, it turns out, really wasn’t an apology at all.