Pawlenty Draws Fire Over ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Comments

(AP File)

(AP File)

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's remarks that he would reinstate the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian service members have set off a bit of a firestorm. At an event in Iowa Pawlenty said if he was elected president in 2012 he would pull funding for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Gay conservative groups immediately accused Pawlenty of pandering to social conservatives in order to make some headlines for his budding presidential campaign.

"I understand that Pawlenty is trying hard to get people to pay attention to his campaign. It's certainly a challenge for someone with such little stature in the conservative movement to compete with high profile conservative leaders like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, etc. Unfortunately for Pawlenty, comments like this simply show how totally out-of-touch he is with the issues that rank and file conservatives care about," said Christopher R Barron, of GOProud, a group that represents gay and lesbian conservatives.

A Pawlenty spokesman defended the former governor's comments. "The governor respects the opinions of the commanding generals and is committed to giving them the resources needed to accomplish their military mission," said Alex Conant. "In this case, both generals and combat troops have voiced opposition to repealing DADT, and the governor values their perspective. He does not support using resources to implement a policy they oppose."

Pawlenty is widely considered to be preparing for a run at the GOP 2012 presidential nomination and has been visiting the crucial early presidential states of Iowa and New Hampshire early and often.

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.