Former Minnesota Gov. and GOP vice-presidential short-lister Tim Pawlenty said today that being the focus of vice presidential media speculation is "a little bit of déjà vu all over again." Pawlenty was passed over by John McCain in 2008 for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Pawlenty dodged questions in an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports about the vice-presidential process, but said, "I'm committed to Gov. Romney, not because I think I was looking to be vice president. I've said many times, I think I can best serve him in other ways. But anybody would be honored to be asked. The real issue isn't necessarily the particulars of a VP candidate … it's ‘does Barack Obama deserve re-election?’"
When Mitchell asked Pawlenty whether or not Romney should disclose more than two years of tax returns, Pawlenty responed, "Well, Mitt Romney has released, as you noted, two years’ worth of tax returns. And that's basically been the standard for Republican nominees for president."
Mitchell, in turn, pointed out that two years of returns is actually on the low end for GOP presidential nominees, far fewer than the dozen Romney’s father George Romney released when he ran for president in 1968 and certainly fewer than the 10 years released by President Obama.
Mitchell pointed out that Pawlenty would be unlikely to help Romney win Minnesota's 10 electoral votes, in contrast to Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who could possibly help in Romney's effort to bring his state's 18 crucial electoral votes. No Republican presidential nominee has won the presidency without winning Ohio.
"I love my state," Pawlenty said. "It's filled with great people. But, it unfortunately has the longest unbroken streak of voting for a Democrat for president of any state in the nation."
But he noted that geography isn't all that counts.
Pawlenty also addressed Former New Hampshire Gov. Sununu's fiery charge during a Romney campaign conference call today in which Sununu claimed in the context of talking about the economy, "I wish this president would learn how to be an American."
Sununu "wasn't as clear as he should have been, and issued a clarification," Pawlenty said.
But Pawlenty said he believed Sununu meant the president "doesn't really have a familiarity with what it means to be in the American entrepreneurial and private enterprise system.”
When Mitchell asked whether Pawlenty had "gotten the call from Boston or New Hampshire, or from Gov. Romney," Pawlenty responded, "I'm in contact with Gov. Romney from time to time. But this week, I'm focused on some yard work and some business things."