Tim Pawlenty, who has been working hard to pique the interest of Iowa voters, shared to Glittarazzi reporters outside of a recent Iowa fundraiser that he likes Lady Gaga’s music.
But one evangelical calls the statement a "rookie mistake" that might alienate him from both conservative and evangelical voters.
After talking politics with Iowan conservatives for an hour, the former Minnesota governor and now presidential hopeful moved outdoors where he chatted about his most relied-upon tech gadgets (an iPhone and a lost iPad) and music. During the conversation, he made some casual comments about approving of Lady Gaga's singing ability and her hit song, Bad Romance.
In the videotaped interview, Pawlenty asked pop-and-politics reporters about their favorite Lady Gaga songs. He then probed their thoughts on "Born This Way."
When the reporters gave nothing more than "meh" responses, he offered that he enjoys Gaga's song "Bad Romance" for the beat. He also remarked that though he found singer Lady Gaga "a little unusual," "'Born this Way' has some appeal" and "she's actually very talented."
"If you go to the end of the HBO special, the Lady Gaga HBO special, and you watch her sing acappella ‘Born This Way,’ she can sing. She can definitely sing. She's talented," Pawlenty told an adjacent Washington Post reporter who chimed in.
The remarks may seem harmless, but Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., called the Gaga praise a "rookie mistake" given his appeal with evangelicals.
Jackson is a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Just last month the NAE's members voted Pawlenty as its preferred Republican presidential candidate in an open-ended survey.
Jackson says given Pawlenty's appeal among evangelicals, there was no need to speak about Gaga, an outspoken advocate for gay rights and open homosexuality in the military. But now that Pawlenty has spoken about the controversial singer he can expect criticism from both sides, he said.
So the question is, why even talk about Gaga?
Is this a profession of fanatic love for pop music? It's doubtful.
Pawlenty answered an earlier on-camera question about his favorite music with a laundry list of country singers: Kenny Chesney, John Mellencamp, George Strait and Tim McGraw to name a few. He ended his answer by saying, "If I had to do all time, I would have to say Bruce Springsteen"
However, he interestingly concluded his conversation with an indirect explanation about liking Lady Gaga's music, saying, "If you had to limit your artistic choices to just conservatives we wouldn't have a lot of choices. You got to be ready to tolerate different politics."
It is no secret that Pawlenty is trying to climb the polls in Iowa.
"We look to the Ames [Iowa] straw poll as a chance to show improvement," Pawlenty said in an interview with Huffington Post reporters.
Being tolerant of different politics may be a great way to win a general election, but it is a bad way to woo conservatives in a primary focused on finding a candidate that has completely different political views than Democrat President Barack Obama.
While Pawlenty professes that "Born this Way" has some appeal, Christian conservative groups have completely distanced themselves from the song and the singer.
Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson said of Lady Gaga in a column, "We shouldn't expect too much nuance and thoughtfulness from someone best known for wearing meat as a dress and making an obscene gesture at a Mets game."
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly observed in his blog, "Lady Gaga was clearly not born this way," noting that her behavior are the result of personal choices. Similarly, many Christians believe homosexuality is a choice.
Jackson said Pawlenty's remarks may also alienate him among critics on the left; Pawlenty has affirmed his support for traditional marriage several times on the campaign trail. He is also considering a traditional marriage pledge launched by Iowan conservative group, The Family Leader. Fellow Minnesota politician Rep. Michele Bachmann has already signed the pledge.
Pawlenty is in Iowa for a three-day tour to draw GOP voters ahead of the Republican Primary.