(Photo: Reuters / Brian Snyder)
The Pawlenty campaign released a video on Wednesday featuring former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and his wife Mary talking about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ and how their faith walk influences their lives.
“I think when somebody is running for or holds high office, whether it’s mayor, governor, or president of the United States, voters want to know and deserve, who is this person? What shapes their values? What are their values? Is this a person that is good to their word? Can we count on them?” Pawlenty asks in the six-minute video.
“And for me, my faith is very important to me and it influences all that I do and it informs people about what my values are. And of course, that has a great bearing on how you conduct yourself in public office.”
A former Catholic, Pawlenty began attending Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minn., with Mary after the two met in law school. He revealed a bit of his early years, saying that after his mother died when he was a teenager how he “leaned deeply” into his faith then and continues to do so now.
“Our hope is not in these earthly things but it’s in Jesus Christ,” he testifies.
Joining him in the faith testimony, Mary describes her faith background this way: “My parents were the ones who introduced me to the importance of having God in your life and being connected to God through a faith in Jesus Christ.”
Together, the Pawlentys spend time in devotionals each morning and ask for God’s guidance, according to Mary.
The video underscores Pawlenty’s stance on other issues related to faith including the separation of church and state, traditional marriage, and abortion.
“The separation of church and state was intended to protect people of faith from government, not government from people of faith. Now we have all this revisionism around what was intended and where those lines really are drawn. I think the founders of this country made it very clear: we were founded as a nation under God,” says Pawlenty.
He goes on to say traditional marriage between one man and one woman is a “moral building block” of society. Pawlenty has come under fire for not signing a lengthy “marriage vow” pledge authored by Bob Vander Plaats, a 2008 Huckabee supporter and former gubernatorial candidate. Vander Plaats’ pledge has generated controversy for his statements on homosexuality and slavery.
In a statement Wednesday, Pawlenty acknowledged the “enormous challenges” the traditional family faces in America. But while sharing Vander Plaats’ commitment to promoting traditional marriage, the GOP presidential hopeful said he prefers to choose his own words rather than sign onto the words chosen by others.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of Mike Huckabee, sent an e-mail to Iowa voters and Huckabee supporters highlighting her candidate’s values and faith. Sanders was hired by Pawlenty last week to manage his straw polls efforts in Iowa.
“Today I’m back in Iowa working for Governor Pawlenty’s campaign because Governor Pawlenty has the same conservative convictions and executive experience I admire in my dad,” Sanders wrote in her e-mail. “Governor Pawlenty’s commitment to faith and family is not a product of coaching by campaign consultants. As a devoted husband to Mary and supportive father to Anna and Mara, Governor Pawlenty gets it. For the Pawlentys, parenting is not just an obligation – it’s a moral responsibility.
Along with the video, a radio ad with the same theme and with the voices of Pawlenty and his wife is also running on Iowa radio stations.
Conservative candidates are targeting the evangelical and Christian vote in Iowa and recognize its importance in winning the straw poll. Though Pawlenty is the top choice to win the Republican nomination among evangelical leaders, according to a National Association of Evangelicals poll, the former governor still has a long way to go to appeal to the rest of the public, including Iowans.
The most recent poll conducted for The Iowa Republican revealed earlier this month that only around 9 percent of Iowa voters support Pawlenty while Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) leads with a quarter of the vote.