Tim Pawlenty may have once promoted cap-and-trade as a response to climate change, but now he considers that choice a "battle scar.” Because nothing’s more traumatic than caving to peer pressure.

"We all [have ‘clunkers’ on our records], and that's one of mine," he said last night at the first debate in the Republican primary. "I just admit it. I don't try to duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away." He does, however, reverse course, backpedal, disown, and disinherit it.

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

Pawlenty has been particularly vocal about disowning cap-and-trade in recent months, perhaps because he's a bit of flip-flopping fish out of water in a field of Republican presidential contenders far to his right. But according to the former Minnesota governor, he's been trying to walk back his support for cap-and-trade for years.

"I sent a letter to Congress, I think, about two years ago and at other times have said, I was wrong, it was a mistake, and I'm sorry. It's ham-fisted, it's going to be harmful to the economy," he said.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.