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Did Tim Pawlenty Confuse Iraq and Iran?

1:53 PM, May 27, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Ben Smith points out that on Wednesday Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty referred to "Iran" and "Iranians" a few times when he was actually talking about Iraq. Jonathan Chait pounces: "He didn't just mishear the question. And he didn't simply misspeak. He clarified that he was being asked about Iran -- 'You're talking about Iran?' -- and then proceeded to utter five sentences about Iraq, only saying 'Iran' each time."

Tim Pawlenty

If you watch the video tape, you'll notice two things: (1) there's a lot of background noise from all of the vehicles barreling down Massachusetts Avenue, and (2) the reporter's initial question was very convoluted. That's probably why (to my knowledge) none of the 50 or so reporters present at the press conference reported that Pawlenty made a gaffe.

Yes, Pawlenty referred to Iraq as Iran multiple times, even after saying "You're talking about Iran?" But considering the noise and the convoluted question, the gaffe wasn't much of a gaffe. To anyone who's spent three minutes talking to Pawlenty about foreign policy, Chait's suggestion that the former Minnesota governor has difficulty grasping the difference between Iraq and Iran is pretty ridiculous.

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