A day after bowing out of the 2010 governor's race, Gov. Tim Pawlenty was back before a national television audience this afternoon, repeating his insistence that his decision isn't merely a prelude to a run for the presidency.
Appearing on MSNBC, Pawlenty recycled many of the demurrals he used Tuesday to deflect incessant questions about his future political plans. "I'm not ruling anything in or out," he said, essentially repeating, word for word, his earlier answers.
He briefly grew somewhat testy when his interviewer pressed him on his presidential aspirations. "Do you know what you'll be doing three years from now?" he asked.
Pawlenty also talked about his hope that the Republican Party can become more inclusive and attractive to voters. "The last couple of election cycles, the marketplace has decided they prefer" Democrats, he said. "Too recently, we've been about throwing people overboard instead of inviting people in."
A new CNN poll on the potential presidential GOP horse race in 2012 shows former Govs. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in a statistical tie with John McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin. Pawlenty wasn't included in the poll.
"Nobody knows who I am, so it wouldn't have made any difference if I was included," he joked.
"There isn't one voice or one leader in the party," Pawlenty said. "I don't think these early numbers mean anything."
Asked about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Pawlenty said she has "a compelling life story" and "an accomplished legal career," adding that she "should be given the benefit of the doubt." Without naming names, he said some Republicans have been indulging themselves in "overheated rhetoric."