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Pawlenty laughs off questions about spot in Romney cabinet


WATERFORD, Mich. -- Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty laughed off "lame" questions Thursday about whether he'd be interested in a cabinet position in a Mitt Romney administration if he isn't selected as the GOP's vice presidential candidate.

"It would be presumptuous and premature for people to be talking about positions down the road," he told reporters at a cabinetry store outside of Detroit, poking at the press for the pun on "cabinets."

"And for me I'm just happy to help [Gov. Romney] as a volunteer. I'm happy to be working in the private sector and on other projects, so beyond that I don't have any plans," he added.

Pawlenty, who is widely discussed as being a possible partner for Romney on the GOP ticket, appeared in eastern Michigan as part of a fundraising tour on the GOP nominee's behalf. As a former governor who no longer serves in elected office or has a professional post other than his membership on a bevy of business boards, he would be a prime candidate for a job in Romney's administration should he be passed over for the No. 2 slot.

In addition to a peppering of questions from reporters eager to match his schedule with a possible secret veep rollout, he fielded inquiries about the Romney campaign's new television advertisements.

Asked about a new ad that links President Obama's contraception coverage policy with a "war on religion," Pawlenty pointed to Romney's past comment that available contraceptives are "working just fine."

"I think Gov. Romney said it best in one of the televised debates when he said contraceptives are working fine and we should leave them alone," he said, referencing  January debate in New Hampshire. "And to his point on religious liberties he was referring to the fact that the Obama administration has imposed new limitations on the exercise of religion and has offended the many leaders of the Catholic church and other faith leaders in that regard."

Touring the cabinetry facility with owners Rik and Mike Kowall, the former Minnesota governor munched on donuts and chatted about the impact of economic uncertainty on small businesses.

"Who decides what music you play?" he joked with one employee as Dire Straits' hit "Money for Nothing" blared in the workroom.

Pawlenty is expected to travel to New Hampshire for a busy slate of public events on Saturday.