Former governor Tim Pawlenty Monday morning endorsed Mitt Romney in the Republican race for president.

Pawlenty, who dropped out of the presidential race last month, said in an email sent out by the Romney campaign that the former Mass. governor was "alone among the contenders" in possessing "the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament."

"Tim will be a trusted adviser as I move forward with my campaign," Romney said. Tim has always been an advocate for lower taxes, reduced spending, and an environment where jobs can be created."

Pawlenty will serve as a Romney campaign national co-chair.

Pawlenty decision to go with Romney means not only is he bypassing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the current polling front runner, but also fellow Minnesotans Michele Bachmann, who August entry into the race predicated Pawlenty's departure.

Romney's front runner status has been flagging since Perry jumped into the race but a series of high profile endorsements could help him gain momentum. The nod may not help Romney with the deeply conservative Republicans, many of whom believe Romney is not conservative enough. Some had that same doubt about Pawlenty.

The endorsement comes after Pawlenty famously criticized Romney during his campaign for president. Over the summer, Pawlenty dubbed the federal health care overhaul "ObamneyCare," saying the health care plan Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts was the spiritual predecessor to ObamaCare. Pawlenty later backed off repeating that sobriquet in a debate when he shared the stage with Romney.

In an interview with Fox News this morning, Pawlenty said he was assured before he made the endorsement that Romney would quickly move to repeal the federal health care law if he were president. He also reiterated that he was not interested in being anyone's vice presidential pick.

Interestingly, Pawlenty was in early voting South Carolina during the Fox interview.

Just a few weeks again former top Pawlenty advisor and former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber moved to the Romney camp. When that move was announced, Romney also said Weber would be a "trusted advisor."

Here's the complete endorsement letter from Pawlenty:

Great crises often produce great leaders. Unfortunately, sometimes the timing isn't right, and neither is the leader.

Barack Obama came into office in the midst of a great economic crisis. Although hopes were high, he did not rise to the occasion. Now that the clouds of enthusiasm and excitement have parted, we see he was obviously unsuited for the task at hand.

President Obama has failed to meet America's economic challenges.

His three years of spending, regulating and taxing have not restarted the economy. Unemployment remains at a shocking 9.1 percent. Economic growth is hovering on the edge of a renewed recession.

Abroad, the standing of the United States appears uncertain and adrift under the failed leadership of a president who prefers chastising allies to condemning foes.

Fortunately, America may get a second chance: Mitt Romney is running for president, and I am proud to endorse him.

Alone among the contenders, he possesses the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament. His abiding faith in our country's exceptional historical position as a beacon of freedom will make him the most important leader in a world that depends upon a strong America to stay at peace.

Having served as Governor of Massachusetts, he turned that state's budget around from deficit to surplus while simultaneously cutting taxes, but that is not the full measure of what he will bring to the Presidency.  His time in government was a moment of service - a way to give back to our country-following a distinguished career in the private sector, where he launched companies and turned around troubled ones.

When the 2002 Winter Olympics were on the verge of collapse thanks to a bid-rigging scandal, Romney was asked to take over. The attacks of September 11 created a security nightmare. Romney presided over a highly complex security mobilization, addressed the management troubles plaguing the games, and staged one of the most memorable competitions ever seen on American soil.

Romney is running for president because he is deeply committed to our country, troubled by its current condition, and I believe he can turn it around.

He's formulated an economic plan-a set of alternatives to the government-oriented programs that Barack Obama has put in place-that is unparalleled in the history of American electoral campaigns.  By pressing for fundamental change in the way that Washington taxes and spends, issues regulations, uses energy, interacts with our major trading partners, and deals with our labor force, he fully envisions a way to place America back on the path toward rapid economic growth and full employment.

And at his core, Mitt Romney is a man of great character. He and his wife Ann have been married for more than four decades.  She is the love of his life.  Together, they have five sons and sixteen grandchildren.

But he's not only a family man, he is a man of principle. He believes in the bedrock conservative ideals of limited government and free enterprise. He will stand up for America's allies when they are threatened, with fortitude.  And he will face down our adversaries. He is a formidable person, and he will certainly be a formidable president.  Our allies can count on it, and our enemies should expect it.

Crises indeed produces great leaders.  Sometimes it just takes awhile.

I am proud to stand with Mitt. Will you join me? 

Sincerely,

Tim Pawlenty