Pawlenty says he can fix GOP image

Associated Press / June 29, 2009
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WASHINGTON - A potential White House contender in 2012 staked a claim yesterday to rehabilitating the Republican Party after extramarital affairs by two leading Republicans have damaged the GOP’s family-values image.

“Any time you have leading figures who are engaged in behavior that is sad and troubling and hypocritical, other people are going to look at that and say, ‘Hmm, they don’t walk the walk.’ And so the words and the actions don’t ring true,’’ said Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. “It certainly hurts the brand.’’

He added: “I think I can make a contribution, in a positive way, for trying to rebuild this party. And it needs it.’’

The latest disclosed dalliance, involving Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, is sad and troubling, said Pawlenty, joined on the Sunday talk circuit by two other possible presidential rivals who stepped carefully around the fallout.

Just talking about the Sanford matter is impolite, said Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

Earlier this month, Nevada Senator John Ensign admitted to an affair with a married campaign aide.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who ran for president in 2008, said the culture of the nation is hurt at such times.

Romney said a second presidential run is “way beyond my horizon at this point’’ and that he is focusing on helping Republicans running for office this fall.