GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty: 'Pendulum is Swinging Back Our Way'

Gov. Tim Pawlenty expressed optimism today that Republicans will regain control of key political positions this year both inside and outside Washington, hinting at his own possible 2012 presidential run.

"The pendulum, we believe, is swinging back our way," the Minnesota Republican told "Good Morning America's" George Stephanopoulos today. "I think it's going to be terrific."

Pawlenty praised the GOP women candidates who won key nominations this Tuesday, including Susana Martinez, nominated to run on the Republican ticket for New Mexico governor, ex-Hewlett Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, who will be challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer for the Senate seat from California, and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor.

"This is, I think, going to be in part the year of women, which is a great thing, particularly for our party," he said. "My party needs to have more faces and voices that aren't just middle aged men."

But Pawlenty distanced himself from some views held by Sharron Angle, the Tea Party favorite in Nevada who will challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November.

Angle is an anti-tax crusader who favors abolishing the Departments of Education and Energy, phasing out Social Security and Medicare, and removing the United States from the United Nations. With heavy backing from the Tea Party Express and other national conservative movements, she easily beat Republican establishment favorites to nab the nomination.

Pawlenty said he wasn't aware of all of Angle's views, and added that most Republicans do not want to abolish Social Security, but rather reform it.

Pawlenty has long been said to eye the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, but he wouldn't confirm nor deny that was the case, except to say that he is open to continuing his work in public service.

"I'm very concerned about the direction of the country," he said on "GMA." "There's a concern, I want to contribute to it and try to improve the outlook for the country in 2010. As to 2012, the way I look at it, if I can add value to the debate, and be the one who delivers the message, I'd at least be open to continuing in public life in some fashion but maybe not."

Pawlenty Blames Obama for Slow Response to BP Oil Spill

Pawlenty also criticized the Obama administration for not responding quickly enough to the oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

While the federal government shouldn't be held responsible for BP's failure when it comes to paying for the crisis, Pawlenty said, the government should have measures in place to deal with these kinds of disasters.

"The notion that all administrations had these kinds of operations going and had no plan for really responding to this kind of disaster is horribly disappointing, a significant failure of government broadly, but we also know during this administration's watch, they had the final say, up or down on this operation," he said. "It's pretty clear they [the Obama administration] had no plan for what happens if a blowout preventer fails."

The U.S. Geological Survey, assigned with examining the leak, now estimates that between 20,000 and 40,000 barrels per day are spewing out of the leaking well, a number starkly higher than BP's original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.

The taskforce estimates that up to 87.3 million gallons of crude oil have leaked into the Gulf so far, enough to fill about 4,300 average size swimming pools. That number is eight times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, previously the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

The Obama administration is making BP expedite the number of claims to Gulf coast residents, which could top $14 billion.

President Obama has formally requested a meeting next Wednesday with Carl-Henric Svanberg, chairman BP's board of directors, and any other "appropriate officials."