ABC News’ Teddy Davis and James Gerber Report: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) lashed into Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., on Tuesday for not having more first-hand knowledge of Iraq and painted him as a lightweight who is out of step with the country’s values.
"He would benefit from joining Sen. McCain on a trip to Iraq," said Pawlenty. "I think the more times you’ve been to Iraq, the better."
Obama has only been to Iraq once. He told The New York Times last week that he is considering a second trip after he clinches his party’s presidential nomination. Asked how many times he has personally been to the war-torn country, Pawlenty, who is viewed as a possible running-mate to Sen. John McCain, said, "three times, most recently in 2007."
With Obama poised to clinch the Democratic nomination when he takes the stage Tuesday evening in St. Paul, Minn., the Republican National Committee put the Minnesota governor on the phone with national reporters.
Pawlenty hammered Obama for saying at a San Francisco fundraiser that small-town Pennsylvanians "cling" to guns and religion because they are "bitter."
"He seems to have a lack of appreciation or understanding of many of the values of this country," said Pawlenty. "He’s not only out of the mainstream of the Democratic Party, but out of the mainstream of the country as a whole."
Being able to read a teleprompter is "not a prerequisite for being president," said Pawlenty.
He predicted that McCain would pick up many of the Democrats who backed Sen. Hillary Clinton’s, D-N.Y., presidential bid.
"I think many of those people will support Sen. McCain," said Pawlenty.
The Obama campaign responded to the criticism from Pawlenty by attempting to tie McCain to President Bush.
"These partisan attacks won’t change the fact that Senator McCain voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time last year," said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. "The McCain campaign has embraced George Bush’s policies, so it’s no surprise that they have also embraced George Bush’s divisive tactics."