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Roundup: ‘Poser’ Johnson and ‘Disappointment’ Pawlenty Berate Each Other at GOP Debate

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Nasty GOP Debates Highlight Two Bad Choices for Minnesota

With a week to go, the tone in the Minnesota GOP primary has gone to eleven this weekend after failed governor and DC lobbyist Tim Pawlenty faced the GOP party-endorsed candidate Jeff Johnson. Pawlenty and Johnson traded insults as they continue to cozy up to Trump and the far-right.
“Tim Pawlenty and Jeff Johnson are tripping over each other to establish their far-right credentials,” says Democratic Governors Association Deputy Communications Director David Turner. “Whoever comes out of this primary will be dramatically out of touch with the needs of Minnesota families. While Johnson caters to the Trump base and Pawlenty tries to erase his failed record, Minnesotans will be looking for a governor who will work for them by protecting expanded healthcare, funding education and creating jobs.”
Here’s a roundup of some of the coverage from the messy GOP debates:
Star Tribune: Tim Pawlenty and Jeff Johnson land blows in radio debateGOP’s Johnson, Pawlenty argued over credibility as true conservatives

Jeff Johnson is a poser. He pretends that he’s for all these things and that he’s going to get all these things done, but he’s been in politics most of his adult life and he’s done none of them,” Pawlenty said near the start of the debate, which aired on Minnesota Public Radio.
“Tim, I won’t call you any names,” Johnson responded. “But there’s no interest among the grass roots,” he said of Pawlenty. “And it’s because there’s disappointment in your governorship.”
Pawlenty campaigned as a conservative, but governed as a moderate, Johnson alleged. “You had a chance, you had your opportunity, this privilege for eight years to just fundamentally reform government in a conservative way,” he said.
Pawlenty interrupted: “Which [of] those did you do, Jeff, in your entire career? What did you actually accomplish in your career in the Legislature or the Hennepin County Commission?”
Johnson shot back: “Hey, Tim, I’ve never been governor.”

MinnPost: Five things we learned from the GOP debate between Jeff Johnson and Tim Pawlenty

  1. They really do think the path to the GOP nomination on Aug. 14 is to be more conservative than the other … lots more.

Johnson argued that Pawlenty didn’t pursue the GOP endorsement in June because his candidacy doesn’t resonate with the GOP base. And he repeated a frequent criticism of Pawlenty — that the GOP rank and file were more disappointed in Pawlenty’s tenure as governor than in that of Arne Carlson.

Post Bulletin: Minnesota governor candidates spar over Trump in GOP debate

Republican gubernatorial candidates Tim Pawlenty and Jeff Johnson spent their first public debate Friday arguing over Pawlenty’s two previous terms as Minnesota governor and who insulted President Donald Trump worse in the run-up to the 2016 election.
But they clashed while rehashing the 2016 election and their support of the President. Pawlenty called Trump “unhinged and unfit for office” weeks ahead of Election Day, a remark that has loomed over Pawlenty’s pursuit for his old job since before entering the race in early April.
Pawlenty countered that Johnson had once publicly referred to Trump as a “jackass,” and that he still voted for Trump. Johnson said he regretted his word choice but still supported Trump over Clinton at the time.
“I supported him. You told people not to vote for him,” Johnson said.
It underlines Trump’s omnipresence in Republican politics as the midterm elections approach, even in traditionally Democratic states like Minnesota.
[Johnson] accused Pawlenty of “campaigning as a conservative but governing as a moderate,” pointing to the growth of the regional planning agency Metropolitan Council’s budget while Pawlenty was in office.
“Why didn’t you author a bill to abolish it?” Pawlenty snapped back. “If you’re going to say that you’re a champion of these things, you have to do more than take up space and sit in a chair.”

You can watch the full entirety of this weekend’s debates HERE and HERE:

Saturday’s Televised Debate on KSTP


Friday’s Radio Debate on MPR News