Pawlenty endorses Romney

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Tim Pawlenty endorsed his former opponent Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday morning.

“I know all the candidates in the race for president in 2012 … I respect them. But the next president is going to have to lead on the economy and jobs in a historic way, and there’s one candidate in this race who is unmatched in his skills and experience and talent when it comes to turning around this economy and growing jobs. That’s Mitt Romney,” said Pawlenty on Fox and Friends. “I’m proud and excited to endorse him for president of the United States.”

Pawlenty will serve as the national co-chair for Romney’s campaign.

The former Minnesota governor explained that despite having attacked Romney for the healthcare plan he implemented as governor of Massachusetts with an individual mandate, he got over that issue “pretty easily.” (RELATED: Democrats focus attacks on Perry, Romney and the tea party)

“I talked to Mitt in some length. For Republican voters, one of their main concerns is the repeal of Obamacare and Mitt Romney is 100 percent dedicated and committed to repealing Obamacare,” Pawlenty said. “He’s said on day one when he’s president, 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 why it’s right for states to take different approaches, it was wrong for President Obama to try to bring that to a national plan and Mitt Romney is committed to repealing it and I know and trust that’s what he’ll do.”

Pawlenty said that Romney’s private sector experience makes him more qualified to tackle the high unemployment rate than Rick Perry’s experience creating jobs as governor of Texas.

“Mitt Romney in this race has a depth and scope of private sector experience as an entrepreneur, as somebody who is invested in, started and growing businesses and, importantly, grown jobs, so that’s a unique perspective, and his leadership ability with respect to the Olympics is really the complete package, but his experience in the private sector amongst these candidates is unmatched,” Pawlenty said.

Asked to compare Romney and Perry’s responses on social security during the last debate on Wednesday, when Perry said the program was a ponzi scheme, and Romney said that anyone who believed social security was a failure could not be president, Pawlenty took Romney’s side.

“Governor Romney wants to fix social security. He doesn’t believe it should be thrown out. He believes it should be reformed and fixed, and I think that’s the right approach,” he said, interrupting the host later to note that though Perry concurred with some of those things in an op-ed Monday, he “has said in the past he thought it was failed.”