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Pawlenty Says He Should’ve Stayed In The Race

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77648_Pat Kessler WEB Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is back home from the presidential campaign trail — and talking.

It’s the first we’ve heard from the former governor since he dropped out of the presidential campaign in August. He said he doesn’t have regrets, exactly, but he would do some things differently.

His top priority now? Getting a job.

The harsh-sounding Pawlenty who ran for president this year is not the affable governor Minnesotans remember. In retrospect, he said on Minnesota Public Radio, that was a mistake.

“You get all these people telling you what to do, but in the end I think you are better served as a candidate and the campaign is better served if you just be yourself,” he said.

In fact, looking at the GOP presidential field now as a former candidate, TPaw revealed to reporters, he should have stayed in the race.

“There are decisions that led up to that. Had I known then what I know now, I probably would have done it differently,” he said.

The former governor said fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann’s popularity did not hurt his presidential campaign.

He’s endorsing Mitt Romney, ruling out running as Romney’s vice president and all but closing the door on a presidential bid in 2016.

And Pawlenty won’t be running for U.S. Senate next year against Democrat Amy Klobuchar, either.

“I think clearly she is in a pretty strong position, but nothing is impossible,” he said.

One thing that Pawlenty did not rule out? Another run for governor.

“I’m not ruling it in, and I’m not ruling it out,” he said.

The two-term governor is more relaxed these days, dressed in jeans and cowboy boots. And says he spent the last couple of months catching up.

“I’m almost caught up on the honey-do list at home,” Pawlenty said.

On Tuesday, Pawlenty’s portrait joined Minnesota’s other former governors on the wall of the State Capitol.

His portrait was done by an artist from Atlanta, who also has painted portraits of George W. and George H.W. Bush.

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