MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty kept right on campaigning for Mitt Romney after he was passed over once again as a vice presidential candidate on Saturday, praising pick Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as a "bold thinker" and vowing to do "all I can" to help the Republican ticket win.

It was the second time in four years that Pawlenty wasn't chosen as a running mate. John McCain went with Sarah Palin in 2008, and Pawlenty went to the Minnesota State Fair and back to his gubernatorial duties.

Those close to Pawlenty said he has a variety of options for what he wants to do next — return to politics, end up in a Romney cabinet position or stay in business.

But on Saturday, the onetime presidential candidate continued his work as one of Romney's top lieutenants. Pawlenty made campaign appearances in New Hampshire, including a Young Republican convention, door-to-door canvassing and an ice cream social. He will also appear on Sunday morning talk shows.

"I am excited about a Romney-Ryan ticket and look forward to doing all I can to help them win this election," Pawlenty said in a statement.

Pawlenty said Romney called him Monday night to let him know he wasn't it. But Pawlenty didn't let on publicly until late Friday, when the Romney campaign announced that its decision would be unveiled Saturday.

Pawlenty's loyalty points toward a political future that could include running for U.S. Senate or again for governor in Minnesota — both offices are on the ballot in 2014 — or a post in a Romney administration. The 51-year-old attorney also might stay in the business world after joining multiple corporate boards since he ended his presidential run last year.

"He's young and got experience. He is nationally known. I think the world is open in front of him," said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who had been pulling for Pawlenty as Romney's running mate.

Longtime Pawlenty aide Brian McClung said Pawlenty wasn't looking for the running mate job, and Pawlenty confidant Charlie Weaver said Pawlenty was "upbeat" when they were in touch Saturday.

Weaver said he would expect Pawlenty's work for the Romney-Ryan ticket to continue up to the November election, and the fact that Romney and McCain both considered Pawlenty for the No. 2 job showed that he is a top talent in the Republican Party.

"He believes strongly in his values and his vision for the country and that's just the kind of guy that Pawlenty is," said Weaver, who served as Pawlenty's gubernatorial chief of staff. "He's loyal to his friends and it doesn't surprise me at all that he's out door-knocking today."

Pawlenty served eight years as Minnesota's governor, leaving office just last year after cultivating a reputation as the state's most conservative chief executive. Pawlenty spent much of 2011 running for the GOP nomination for president, but his campaign sputtered and he was panned for being too dull for the national stage.

Soon after leaving the race, he endorsed the former Massachusetts governor and became a loyal pitchman. While campaigning for Romney in working-class areas of the country, Pawlenty highlighted his blue-collar roots, showing an economic empathy that is difficult for the multimillionaire Romney to project.

Pawlenty's evangelical faith is also a plus among social conservatives. He was raised Catholic but began attending an evangelical megachurch during his courtship with his wife.

Weaver, who heads the Minnesota Business Partnership, said Pawlenty could fill the roles of trade representative, attorney general or cabinet secretary in a Romney administration — but says Pawlenty isn't angling for those jobs.

Republican strategist Ben Golnik said Pawlenty would be formidable if he decided to jump back into Minnesota politics to challenge Democratic Sen. Al Franken or Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014.

"Governor Pawlenty is greatly enjoying his work in the private sector, but he's also keeping his options open when it comes to a possible run for office in the future," McClung said.

___

Associated Press writer Brian Bakst in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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  • Marco Rubio

    "Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions, and choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is a truly inspired choice. I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot. Paul Ryan is a courageous reformer who understands our nation's challenges, has proposed bold policy solutions to solve them, and has shown the courage to stand up to President Obama and other Washington politicians trying to tear him down. "The Romney-Ryan ticket is going to win in November because it offers the American people visionary leadership to recapture the free enterprise spirit that has empowered countless Americans to build businesses from scratch and live the American dream. I'm excited about the visionary change a Romney-Ryan team will bring to Washington, and I look forward to campaigning

  • Rob Portman

    <blockquote> "Mitt Romney has made a great choice in Paul Ryan. He is an accomplished public servant and a leading voice on the most pressing issues facing our country. Paul is one of my best friends in Congress and someone I have worked closely with as a former colleague on the House Ways & Means Committee. "Jane and I wish Paul and Janna and their kids the very best. As the Chairman of the Romney campaign in Ohio, I look forward to working with Paul to ensure that the Romney-Ryan ticket carries Ohio and is victorious in November. Most importantly, as a member of the Senate, I look forward to working closely with a Romney-Ryan Administration to restore fiscal sanity and enact pro-growth policies to create jobs."</blockquote>

  • Obama for American Campaign Manager Jim Messina

    <blockquote>"In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes."</blockquote>

  • Michelle Malkin

  • Michael Moore

  • Brad Woodhouse

  • Rachel Maddow MSNBC

  • mike murphy

  • Michael Steele

  • Larry Sabato

  • davidfrum

  • Charles M. Blow

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  • Nilay Patel

  • Mark Harris

  • Progressive Change Campaign Committee

    The Progressive Change Campaign Committee issued the following statement: <blockquote>"Paul Ryan is a right-wing extremist who wants to end Medicare. This is a major unforced error by Mitt Romney. It gives President Obama and Democrats a chance to draw a clear contrast in 2012 by promising not to cut one penny from Medicare or Social Security benefits. If Democrats win in a landslide, this was the game changer." -- Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a 1 million member grassroots organization</blockquote>

  • Laura Ingraham

  • John Kasich

  • Ari Fleischer

  • Susan B. Anthony List

    The national pro-life organization released the following statement: <blockquote>"By selecting Congressman Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, Governor Romney demonstrates his commitment to protecting American women and unborn children," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List. "A longtime pro-life advocate and a strong fiscal conservative, Congressman Ryan has insisted that there can be no 'truce' when it comes to advancing the rights of the unborn and achieving fiscal responsibility. He has a pristine pro-life voting record and will be an asset to Governor Romney's campaign. "Pro-life voters are a key demographic and help secure victory in critical elections," continued Dannenfelser. "The addition of a second strong pro-life leader to the ticket energizes the pro-life base - we are thrilled with this pick."</blockquote>

  • GOProud

    <blockquote>"The selection of Paul Ryan is a bold and inspired pick," said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud. "Paul Ryan has been the architect of policies that would benefit all Americans, especially gay Americans." "Paul Ryan is one of the few political leaders anywhere in the country willing to tell the American people the truth about the unprecedented budget crisis we are facing, and - more importantly - willing to put forward bold plans to put this country back on the road to fiscal solvency," continued LaSalvia.</blockquote>

  • Log Cabin Republicans

    <blockquote>"Congressman Paul Ryan is a strong choice for vice president, and his addition to the GOP ticket will help Republican candidates up and down the ballot," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. "As chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the Republican "path to prosperity" that provided the blueprint for serious spending cuts in this Congress, nobody is more qualified to articulate a conservative economic vision to restore the American economy and stimulate job creation. </blockquote>

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

  • Jason Chaffetz

  • Center For American Progress President Neera Tanden

    <blockquote>"Just like Sen. John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin and George H.W. Bush's selection of Dan Quayle, Mitt Romney has been cowed by the right wing into choosing an extreme vice presidential nominee who will alienate moderate voters. It's now clearer than ever that as president, Mitt Romney would end Medicare as we know it, and will raise taxes on middle class families by more than $2,000in order to slash taxes on the wealthiest Americans. While there is a lot that can be said about Paul Ryan's extreme views, more important is what this choice says about Mitt Romney: that he is unwilling or unable to stand up to the far-right of his party and select a vice-presidential candidate that is both able to be president on day one and capable of governing by reaching across the aisle."</blockquote>

  • SEIU President Mary Kay Henry

    <blockquote>"If there were ever any doubt that Mitt Romney is not on the side of working people, today's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate makes it crystal clear. With this choice, Romney has shown the American people that he believes Rep. Ryan's extremist, irresponsible and anti-worker agenda is what's right for our country. "Rep. Ryan has made a name for himself by fighting in the halls of Congress for tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations while proposing to gut vital services like Medicare and education, and eliminating any sense of retirement security for working families. His no-holds barred record of attacking seniors, children, and working men and women is frightening for the 99 percent of Americans who are not rich -- but for Mitt Romney it was a calling card to choose him as a running mate."

  • NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan

    <blockquote>"Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Ryan as his running mate reminds us of why elections matter when it comes to our ability to make personal and private medical decisions," Keenan continued. "The outcome of the 2012 presidential election very well could determine whether abortion remains legal and accessible for the next generation of American women. Romney has pledged that taking away women's rights will be a priority for him and his choice of Ryan amplifies that promise to the extreme anti-choice backers of this ticket. My organization's priority is to make sure President Obama remains in the White House."</blockquote>

  • Kelly Ayotte

  • Herman Cain

  • Rick Perry

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  • Pete Hoekstra

  • Steve King

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  • Rick Santorum

  • Rep. Kathy Hochul

    <blockquote>"Americans deserve new ideas for how we can reduce the debt and protect our seniors and the middle class. Just one year ago, Western New York voters rejected the Ryan-Collins policies that would end Medicare as we know it and hurt middle class families while giving more tax cuts to the rich. Our country needs to move forward, not re-hash failed ideas. Given Chris Collins' ongoing support for tax cuts for the rich that add nearly $1 trillion to the deficit and his willingness to send his business to China to line his pockets, it is clear my opponent is going to continue to pursue policies and priorities that have already been rejected."</blockquote>

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski

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  • Rob Zerban

    <blockquote>"Now that Paul Ryan's personal ambition has clearly trumped his interest in the First District, I have no doubt he'll find himself out of a job come November. Once Wisconsinites and voters across our country learn the truth about Ryan's radical plot to end Medicare as we know it, de-fund women's health care, and preserve tax breaks for millionaires, they'll vote against him not just once, but twice. In the coming weeks, our campaign will work with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to continue getting the word out on Ryan's indefensible record, and building momentum to ensure victory on Election Day."</blockquote>

  • Scott Walker

    <blockquote>"Governor Mitt Romney made a bold and reform-minded selection in Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. This election has to be about who is going to look out for the next generation. America needs a comeback team to turn around the economy and to turn around the fiscal status of our country. Romney and Ryan have the ideas and the experience needed to take on these core issues. This is a great day for Wisconsin and an even greater day for America."</blockquote>