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Tim Pawlenty Endorses Mitt Romney For President In 2012 (VIDEO)

First Posted: 09/12/11 09:29 AM ET Updated: 11/12/11 05:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Tim Pawlenty, who dropped his bid for the presidency last month, threw his support behind Mitt Romney Monday morning, saying the former Massachusetts governor "possesses the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament."

"President Obama has failed to meet America's economic challenges. ... Fortunately, America may get a second chance: Mitt Romney is running for president, and I am proud to endorse him," said Pawlenty in an email message sent out by the Romney campaign.

"[Romney] believes in the bedrock conservative ideals of limited government and free enterprise," he continued. "He will stand up for America's allies when they are threatened, with fortitude. And he will face down our adversaries. He is a formidable person, and he will certainly be a formidable president. Our allies can count on it, and our enemies should expect it."

"He's formulated an economic plan-a set of alternatives to the government-oriented programs that Barack Obama has put in place-that is unparalleled in the history of American electoral campaigns. By pressing for fundamental change in the way that Washington taxes and spends, issues regulations, uses energy, interacts with our major trading partners, and deals with our labor force, he fully envisions a way to place America back on the path toward rapid economic growth and full employment."

Pawlenty dropped out of the presidential race on Aug. 14 after coming in third in the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa. He criticized the health-care program passed in Massachusetts while Romney was governor, comparing it to President Obama's plan and calling it "Obamneycare." He was criticized by Republicans in June for backing down from aggressively confronting Romney during one of the debates.

Since dropping out, Pawlenty has given hints that he may endorse Romney, saying he believes the former governor could attract the support of "independents and conservative Democrats" in a general election.

Romney has also been picking up the support of key Pawlenty backers in recent weeks.

Appearing on Fox News Monday morning, Pawlenty cited the "depth and scope" of Romney's experience in the private sector.

He has also criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), the frontrunner in recent polls, saying his position that Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme" is troublesome.

"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."

Responding to questions about his previous criticism of Romney's health-care program, Pawlenty said he talked to Romney about his concerns and came away reassured.

"Mitt Romney is 100 percent dedicated and committed to repealing Obamacare," Pawlenty said, citing Romney's pledge to grant the states waivers from the federal law.

Pawlenty will be a national co-chair of Romney's campaign. He told Fox News that he had no vice presidential aspirations.

READ The Full Pawlenty Message:

Dear XX,

Great crises often produce great leaders. Unfortunately, sometimes the timing isn't right, and neither is the leader.

Barack Obama came into office in the midst of a great economic crisis. Although hopes were high, he did not rise to the occasion. Now that the clouds of enthusiasm and excitement have parted, we see he was obviously unsuited for the task at hand.

President Obama has failed to meet America's economic challenges.

His three years of spending, regulating and taxing have not restarted the economy. Unemployment remains at a shocking 9.1 percent. Economic growth is hovering on the edge of a renewed recession.

Abroad, the standing of the United States appears uncertain and adrift under the failed leadership of a president who prefers chastising allies to condemning foes.

Fortunately, America may get a second chance: Mitt Romney is running for president, and I am proud to endorse him.

Alone among the contenders, he possesses the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament. His abiding faith in our country's exceptional historical position as a beacon of freedom will make him the most important leader in a world that depends upon a strong America to stay at peace.

Having served as Governor of Massachusetts, he turned that state's budget around from deficit to surplus while simultaneously cutting taxes, but that is not the full measure of what he will bring to the Presidency. His time in government was a moment of service - a way to give back to our country-following a distinguished career in the private sector, where he launched companies and turned around troubled ones.

When the 2002 Winter Olympics were on the verge of collapse thanks to a bid-rigging scandal, Romney was asked to take over. The attacks of September 11 created a security nightmare. Romney presided over a highly complex security mobilization, addressed the management troubles plaguing the games, and staged one of the most memorable competitions ever seen on American soil.

Romney is running for president because he is deeply committed to our country, troubled by its current condition, and I believe he can turn it around.

He's formulated an economic plan-a set of alternatives to the government-oriented programs that Barack Obama has put in place-that is unparalleled in the history of American electoral campaigns. By pressing for fundamental change in the way that Washington taxes and spends, issues regulations, uses energy, interacts with our major trading partners, and deals with our labor force, he fully envisions a way to place America back on the path toward rapid economic growth and full employment.

And at his core, Mitt Romney is a man of great character. He and his wife Ann have been married for more than four decades. She is the love of his life. Together, they have five sons and sixteen grandchildren.

But he's not only a family man, he is a man of principle. He believes in the bedrock conservative ideals of limited government and free enterprise. He will stand up for America's allies when they are threatened, with fortitude. And he will face down our adversaries. He is a formidable person, and he will certainly be a formidable president. Our allies can count on it, and our enemies should expect it.

Crises indeed produces great leaders. Sometimes it just takes awhile.

I am proud to stand with Mitt. Will you join me?

Sincerely,

Tim Pawlenty

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