Mea Culpa: Pawlenty Admits Debate Mistake

By MichaelJames

Jun 16, 2011 11:00pm

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports:

Tim Pawlenty tonight admitted that he made a mistake Monday in pulling his "ObamneyCare" punch directed at rival Mitt Romney.

After coining the derisory term on "Fox News Sunday," Pawlenty opted to pull back from it at Monday's debate, despite being pressed by CNN's John King, who even went so far as to question the former Minnesota governor's guts.

Mea culpa, Pawlenty admitted tonight.

"I should have been much more clear during the debate, Sean," Pawlenty told Sean Hannity on Fox. "I don’t think we can have a nominee that was involved in the development and construction of ObamaCare and then continues to defend it. And that was the question. I should’ve answered it directly. Instead I stayed focused on Obama.

"But the question really related to the contrast with Gov. Romney, and I should have been more clear," he added. "I should have made the point that he was involved in developing it. He really laid the groundwork for ObamaCare and continues to this day to defend it."

It's the second time today Pawlenty has acknowledged his mistake.

Pawlenty tweeted this afternoon: "On seizing debate opportunity re: healthcare: Me 0, Mitt 1. On doing healthcare reform the right way as governor: Me 1, Mitt 0."

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