If Elected President, Pawlenty Tells Fischer He'll Reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell

There are few Religious Right leaders active today who can compete with the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer in terms of openly hostile bigotry against gays, Muslims, and all those who do not share his radical worldview:

So it is bound to raise a few eyebrows that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty went on Fischer's radio program yesterday to promote his new book ... but it won't raise any eyebrows that Fischer used the opportunity to grill Pawlenty on social issues or that Pawlenty largely shared Fischer's right-wing concerns:

Fischer: If you are asked the question "should CPAC provide a place at the table for an organization like GOProud," what will you say?

Pawlenty: You know, I am not familiar with that dispute, I have heard it referenced ... but I'm not just a fiscal conservative, I'm a social conservative so I can't speak for CPAC but I can speak for myself and what I believe and I've been a strong supporter of the family, pro-life positions, traditional marriage positions - so I'm not sure what that dispute all involves. But whatever it is, I don't think we should be afraid of telling what I believe and what we believe to whatever audience. We're trying to make sure we stand what what we believe in and we share it in a way that will hopefully bring more people to our side.

Fischer: Now the Left, and homosexual activists and organizations like GOProud, one of their stated agendas is to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that defines marriage in federal law and for federal purposes as a union of one man and one woman. The Obama administration has made a tepid and pretty ineffective defense of that law - if you become president and that law faces a challenge under your administration, how vigorously will you defend DOMA? What will you do to make sure it's defended?

Pawlenty: I believe strongly in traditional marriage. I was co-author of the law in Minnesota that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. I've been a vocal supporter of an amendment in Minnesota that would put that into our constitution. I hope that the day comes when it is put before the voters of Minnesota. And it's not just a legal issue; it's also an important cornerstone for our society and our culture. I mean, families and traditional marriage is so important to that and I don't believe all other domestic relations should be on the same platform as traditional marriage, I just don't buy and so I've been a strong supporter of traditional marriage. I also think who you appoint to courts in this regard is important and we don't have litmus tests, so to speak, but we want strict constructionists and people who take a conservative view toward the interpretation of our laws.

Fischer: Now Roe v. Wade is obviously the critical court ruling on the abortion issue - that is a ruling that was issued in 1973 so it seems to me that candidates would have the freedom to comment on whether they thought potential nominees to the Supreme Court, would have the freedom to comment on whether they thought Roe v. Wade was properly decided from a constitutional perspective. A number of sitting Supreme Court justices have commented on the fact that they believe it was poorly decided. So that's going to be a critical issue, if you have the opportunity to appoint nominees to the federal bench - will you talk explicitly with a nominee to the federal bench about his or her view about whether they think Roe v Wade was properly decided from a constitutional basis, will that be in the nature of a litmus test for you, that question, will you bring it up, will you look for an answer?

Pawlenty: Well, I've appointed a lot of judges as the Governor of Minnesota, including at our Supreme Court, appellate court and district court level. For the first time, at least in the modern history and maybe in a long time we now have a small majority of people on our Minnesota Supreme Court we are conservative and strict constructionist. I have confidence in them and how they would approach these issues of how you interpret the law. On the specific issue of Roe. v Wade, when you tell people or ask people to be strict constructionist and you look at the Constitution, to have people say "I'm a strict constructionist" would somehow lead to a decision or a conclusion like Roe v. Wade, I think it was wrongly decided. And if you look at the reasoning behind it and the strict interpretation approach to interpreting the Constitution, I think Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided by the Court. But I have been careful that I appoint people, particularly at the appellate level, that share this strict constructionist philosophy - that at least says to me directly - I didn't have litmus test - but I do want to know that they share my view and values about the proper role of the court and the interpretation of the law, so we try to get to the bottom of that.

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.