Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty finished third in a straw poll of New Hampshire Republican Party members Saturday — with Rep. Michele Bachmann close on his heels in fifth.
The two Minnesotans finished in the top quarter of 21 potential candidates included in the straw poll. Mitt Romney was the clear winner with 35 percent of the vote, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 11 percent and Pawlenty at 8 percent.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin finished behind Pawlenty at 7 percent, and Bachmann rounded out the top five with 5 percent.
Romney finished second in the 2008 New Hampshire primary to eventual nominee John McCain.
In the straw poll, held during the New Hampshire Republican committee's annual meeting, Pawlenty and Bachmann finished ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — both considered among the frontrunners should they choose to enter the race.
Pawlenty's presidential ambitions have long been clear, and the former governor has made numerous trips to the Granite State, where the first presidential primary is held.
Bachmann's interest in a presidential bid, on the other hand, has only come to light in recent weeks. But Bachmann, who founded the House Tea Party Caucus, generated plenty of buzz during a trip to Iowa Friday, the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
Gov. Mark Dayton, speaking to a mostly Republican audience at the annual Minnesota Business Partnership dinner, repeated his familiar attack on the House GOP, blaming them for a legislative impasse on transportation.
The 20-year-old suspect in the deadly Washington state mall shooting said nothing and appeared "zombie-like" when he was arrested by authorities nearly 24 hours into an intense manhunt, authorities said.