01/07/2011 11:46 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Tim Pawlenty: Sarah Palin 'Is A Force Of Nature'

Recently replaced Minnesota Governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty weighed in recently regarding another talked-about contender, explaining that Sarah Palin is a "force of nature" on the political scene.

"If she wanted to compete for the presidency, I think she has the tools to do it," Pawlenty says in an interview on ABC News's "Nightline" set to air Friday, before adding that he wasn't really weighing that direct matchup. "I've got a long way to go to get people to even know my name, much less worrying about whether I could beat, you know, the force of nature that is Sarah Palin."

Pawlenty then claimed that the GOP's view of the former Alaska governor was focused more on respect than fear.

"I don't think it's fair to say people are afraid of her," he said. "It's fair to say she is somebody who's got a lot of influence and can use it for good, if she chooses to."

ABC News points out:

If both decided to run, it wouldn't be the first time Pawlenty competed with Palin for a top office. In 2008, Pawlenty was rumored to be on the short list to be the running mate for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Pawlenty claimed that he wasn't really expecting to be on the ticket in 2008, but he couldn't help sounding somewhat disappointed that Palin had been picked over him.

"I started helping John McCain, not with the expectation of being his running mate, and then as that kinda grew, of course you get more interested," he said. "Things happen in life for a reason."