Jumping off Tim Pawlenty’s professed admiration for Lady Gaga’s gay anthem “Born This Way,” NBC’s David Gregory asked the presidential candidate if he thought gays were, in fact, born into their orientation. According to Pawlenty, the answer is above his pay grade.
[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet the 2012 GOPers: Tim Pawlenty]
Pawlenty told Gregory on Meet The Press that when it came to whether homosexuality was a choice or an innate part of a person’s character, “the science in that regard is in dispute” and that it was unclear whether it was “behavioral or partly genetic.”
“There’s no scientific conclusion that it’s genetic,” he said. “We don’t know that. So we don’t know to what extent, you know, it’s behavioral and— that’s something that’s been debated by scientists for a long time. But as I understand the science, there’s no current conclusion that it’s genetic.”
As if he hadn’t distanced himself from gay rights activist Lady Gaga enough already, he added that he was only “subjected to” her music by his teenage daughters, although it has some “good qualities.”
Gregory’s question touches on a particularly loaded topic for GOP candidates at the moment. Michele Bachmann’s husband, who has called gays “barbarians,” is under fire over a new report in The Nation that his clinic engaged in “gay conversion therapy” to try to “cure” patients of their homosexual desires.
Pawlenty took a dig at Bachmann in his Meet The Press appearance, but over her sparse list of legislative accomplishments as a lawmaker.
“Well, I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I’ve campaigned for her. I respect her. But her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent. It’s nonexistent,” he said. “And so we’re not looking for folks who, you know, just have— speech capabilities. We’re lookin’ for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I’ve done that and she hasn’t.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.