The former Republican governor was vague about any political aspirations. "I haven't ruled anything in or out."
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who once had his sights set on the White House, said Monday that he absolutely is not vying to be vice president.
"I'm going to take my name off the list, so if ... you're a journalist, an observer, remove my name from the list," Pawlenty said. "I went through it before with McCain."
Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, passed over Pawlenty for Sarah Palin.
This time around, Pawlenty has been mentioned as a possible contender for Mitt Romney's second-in-command, often followed by a one-word assessment from pundits: "boring."
Pawlenty gave a policy-heavy speech Monday to a half-filled auditorium at the University of Minnesota, where he spoke of the "casino" atmosphere of big banks, his "evolution" on cap-and-trade environmental policy, the transformational nature of natural gas to the energy markets and the need to raise the retirement age and to use means testing for people not yet near retirement age.
He was more vague about his future. Asked whether he might run for U.S. Senate or for governor in 2014, he replied: "I haven't ruled anything in or out."
Pawlenty, who now serves on corporate boards and stumps for Romney, was more sanguine than some establishment Republicans about the influence of Ron Paul on the GOP order.
"They're working hard and so we want them to be part of the Republican team and the conservative coalition and the Romney effort, but it is going to take some time for them to feel that they've had a full and fair hearing and they're still working on it," Pawlenty said.
"This happens every generation. There's some insurgency group or candidate ... or perceived insurgency group that threatens the established order, and over time that energy gets channeled in a constructive way."
He said that anyone who is going to be successful would need to build a coalition that taps into the Paul fervor.
The former governor, who was heckled at an Oklahoma Republican convention over the weekend that later was shut down when Paul and Romney supporters brawled, said he does not plan to attend this weekend's Minnesota Republican convention.
He will, he said, be elsewhere in the country, campaigning for Romney.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • Twitter: @rachelsb
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