Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty Sunday accused President Barack Obama of “hiding in the basement” instead of speaking to the American people directly about his plan to raise the debt ceiling.

“As important as the debt ceiling is, the other issues of whether we’re going to fix the spending problems of the country also deserve attention, and if not now, when?” Pawlenty told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “He’s ducking, he’s bobbing, he’s weaving, he’s not leading leading, and that’s not the kind of president we need. And that’s why he needs to be removed from office.”

“We should say that apparently with Speaker Boehner, he has talked about some of these reforms,” Crowley noted.

“In hiding,” Pawlenty interrupted. “If you’re the leader of the of the free world, would you please come to the microphone and quit hiding in the basement about your proposals and come on up and address the American people? Is he chicken?”

“Is he?” Crowley pressed.

“I love Paul Ryan, but we should not have to have a congressman from Wisconsin leading the debate on the nation’s financial challenges in one of the most historically moments in the country’s history. The president should be standing out courageously and leading on these issues specifically, and you can’t find him,” Pawlenty said. “If we wanted to do it in private, we can go down to the VFW basement. I can go have a beer with my neighbor over that. He’s the president. Come on out of the basement and come out to the lawn of the White House to the microphone and tell us your plan on entitlement reform and he won’t do it because he doesn’t have the courage to do it.”

But Obama has spoken to the American people about the need to raise the debt ceiling in a series of interviews and press conferences in recent days.

“President Obama has been spending more time in the White House briefing room that a C-Span cameraman the past couple of weeks,” Mediate’s Tommy Christopher observed Sunday.

And the White House has presented the public with the same proposal to raise the debt ceiling as past administrations.

“Our very strong view is that the debt limit should be passed as a clean, standalone bill,” Office of Management and Budget director Jack Lew told Bloomberg TV in April.

“It has always been a straight up or down vote,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said Thursday. “The new leadership in the House has decided that they want to add some budget cuts or other considerations to this vote, because that is their preference, and they are the leadership, so we are in this quagmire.”

“The problem here is that there are two issues tied together that shouldn’t be,” Christopher opined. “If Republicans want to see a ‘plan’ to avoid a default, here it is: raise the goddam debt ceiling. Is that specific enough?”

Watch this video from CNN’s State of the Union, broadcast July 24, 2011.


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