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Tim Pawlenty: Ron Paul 'Shouldn't Be Dismissed' Ahead Of 2012 South Carolina Primary

The Huffington Post   Posted: 01/11/2012 3:32 pm

In an interview Wednesday with CBS News' Bob Schieffer, Tim Pawlenty discussed the challenges Mitt Romney faces following his victory in New Hampshire, particularly coming from second place finisher Ron Paul.

"Well I think Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee, and I hope that he is, I'm working hard to accomplish that," Pawlenty said. "But we have to tip the cap to Ron Paul. Like I said, he doesn't agree with Mitt on everything but he came in second in New Hampshire, he had a respectable showing in Iowa, and he shouldn't be dismissed ... He's doing pretty well in those early states."

The former Minnesota governor endorsed Romney in September, following his decision to end his own presidential campaign.

Paul, who won 22.9 percent of the vote (as opposed to Romney's 39.3 percent), narrowly beat the former Massachusetts governor as the favorite among independent voters. However, Pawlenty expressed doubts that Paul would attempt to run as a third-party candidate. "I believe in the end he's going to be part of a conservative Republican coalition to win the presidency," Pawlenty said.

Paul has not ruled out a third-party candidacy if he does not win the Republican nomination.

When asked about possible threats from Newt Gingrich's deep-pocketed supporters in South Carolina, Pawlenty said that voters wouldn't "fall for glossy TV ads." He also dismissed what many have seen as a lackluster group of candidates: "Among this field, Mitt Romney is really the varsity playing the junior varsity," he said.

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