Pawlenty: I would not have granted clemency to police shooter

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty became the first likely GOP presidential candidate to criticize Mike Huckabee's pardon of a suspected killer during his time as Arkansas's governor.

Pawlenty said that he would not have granted clemency to Maurice Clemmons, who was suspected of fatally shooting four police officers in Washington state on Sunday before being shot and killed by police in Seattle Tuesday morning.

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Asked by conservative radio host Laura Ingraham if he would have granted clemency under the same circumstances, Pawlenty replied,  "No. On those facts, no, Laura, I would not."

He continued, "In Minnesota, I don't think I've ever voted for clemency. We've given out pardons for things after everybody has served out their term, but again, usually for more minor offenses. But clemency, certainly not. Commutation of sentence, certainly not."

Huckabee, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, is considered a 2012 contender. Huckabee commuted Clemmons's sentence in 2000 after he served over 10 years of a 95-year sentence for various felony convictions. Clemmons was 18 years old in 1990 when he was sentenced.

Some conservatives have criticized Huckabee for his decision, saying it displayed poor judgment and what they call his inclination toward being overly empathetic with law-and-order issues. Likewise, debate has begun to swirl about Huckabee's future as a candidate for elected office. 

On Sunday before speaking publicly about the shooting, Huckabee said it's "less likely than more likely" he'll run for president in 2012. 

h/t GOP12