He may have dropped out of the running for the presidency, but Tim Pawlenty isn't sitting on the sidelines - the former presidential candidate has endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
Pawlenty, who garnered early attention in his own presidential race but dropped out after a third-place showing in Iowa's straw poll last month, threw his weight behind former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney Monday on Fox News.
"There's one candidate in this race who's unmatched in his skills and experience and talent when it comes to turning around this economy and growing jobs, and that's Mitt Romney," Pawlenty said. "I believe he's going to be our party's nominee, and I think he's going to be a transformational and great president for this country."
Romney's private sector experience, Pawlenty said, was a deciding factor in his endorsement, along with his policy experience.
"Uniquely, Mitt Romeny, in this race, has a depth and scope of private sector experience - as an entrepreneur, as somebody who's invested in, and started, and grown businesses - and importantly, grown jobs," Pawlenty said. "His experience in the private sector amongst these candidates is unmatched."
One of Romney's biggest hurdles will be convincing voters that the health care plan he implemented as governor of Massachusetts differs from President Obama's health care legislation - an issue that Pawlenty acknowledged was an issue on voters' minds.
"Mitt Romney is a hundred percent dedicated and committed to repealing Obamacare," Pawlenty said. "He's going to issue executive orders that will give states waivers from Obamacare, and then he'll take the additional steps to repeal it. He understands and believes and has asserted himself - while it was for states to take different approaches, it was wrong for President Obama to try to bring that to a national plan."
Texas Governor Rick Perry made waves recently when he called Social Security a "ponzi scheme," bringing Social Security reform to the forefront of the GOP presidential debate. Pawlenty declined to comment specifically on Perry's views - which Perry himself tempered in an opinion piece Monday - but stood behind Romney's support for reform.
"Governor Romney wants to fix Social Security - he doesn't want to abolish it or end it," Pawlenty said. "He doesn't believe it should be thrown out - he thinks it should be reformed and fixed."
The former Minnesota governor had struggled to find his own campaign footing as more and more GOP candidates threw their hat into the presidential ring. Pawlenty eventually ended up sparring memorably with fellow Minnesotan Rep. Michele Bachmann, questioning her political experience and calling her record in Congress "nonexistent."
Now that Pawlenty has publicly endorsed Romney, he says he has no aspirations to be part of the ticket as a vice presidential nominee.
"I'm not going to consider being VP - I was down that path once before, with John McCain, and I'm not even going to consider that," Pawlenty said. "I'm going to do what I can to help Mitt in this race, but that won't be part of the future for me."