Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty slightly changed his tune on his vice presidential prospects Thursday when he didn’t rule out the possibility that he might get picked as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Just days before, he had told reporters to take him off the list.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Pawlenty, a former presidential candidate himself, said anyone who is asked to be Romney’s running mate would be “honored to serve if asked.”
“Well I’m going to do whatever I can to help Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama, because I think the future of the country is at stake and I think Mitt Romney is going to be a fantastic president for our country. I’ll do whatever I can do to help him,” Pawlenty said. “He’s going to have a lot of great people to pick from. Obviously, anyone would be honored to served if asked, I’ve just been telling people, look, I think I can help in other ways but obviously anybody would be honored to serve if asked.”
But just earlier this week, during an event at the University of Minnesota, Pawlenty had a direct message for all those speculating about whether his name will appear on the GOP ticket: “Remove my name from the list.”
Asked if the campaign has asked him to turn over documents to undergo vetting, Pawlenty, who serves as the national co-chair of Romney’s campaign, remained mum, refusing to talk about the “process.”
“Well, the Romney campaign has a policy — and I’m a national co-chair of the campaign — that we don’t talk about the vice presidential policy in terms of timing, whether it relates to me or anyone else or the aspects of that,” Pawlenty said. ”That’s just the campaign’s policy. We don’t discuss the details of that process.”
Pawlenty joins another VP contender — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. – in adopting the tight-lipped approach. After the Florida senator slipped up and referred to himself as a vice president instead of a senator, Rubio decided to stop commenting on the vice presidential selection process.
Pawlenty endorsed Romney shortly after giving up his own candidacy last year. After a poor showing in the Ames, Iowa, Straw Poll in August, he became a lead surrogate for Romney, most prominently in his home state of Minnesota. Romney lost Minnesota to former Sen. Rick Santorum, an embarrassment for Pawlenty.
Pawlenty underwent the vetting process four years ago when John McCain considered selecting him as a running mate before deciding to go with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.