“Mitt Romney has the most knowledge, the most capability, the most electability of any candidate in this race,” said Pawlenty on Monday, according to MSNBC
, and added Romney “possesses the unique qualifications to confront our severe economic predicament. The two appeared together for the first time as partners in North Charleston, S.C. They will be together Monday night for a CNN/Tea Party debate in Florida.
Romney is currently trailing Texas Governor Rick Perry in most polls, even though Perry just announced his candidacy a month ago. The two will go head-to-head in Monday night’s debate.
Pawlenty, recently campaigning against Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, had called him a “co-conspirator” with President Obama over the health care overhaul, and made news when referring to it as “Obomneycare.”
Once considered Romney’s chief rival for the GOP presidential nomination, Pawlenty finished a disappointing third in the recent Iowa straw poll and is now assisting the Romney campaign as its national co-chair.
On “Fox and Friends” Monday morning, Pawlenty said he believed Romney would be “our party’s nominee.” While Pawlenty is dismissing any speculation as a potential vice presidential running mate should Romney win the GOP nomination, Romney noted that, although far from creating VP short list, Pawlenty “would be a good addition to any national ticket,” MSNBC
In a statement, Romney said: “Tim will be a trusted adviser as I move forward with my campaign. Tim has always been an advocate for lower taxes, reduced spending and an environment where jobs can be created. It is an honor to have him serve as co-chair to my campaign for the presidency,” the New York Times
Mike Huckabee, a former GOP presidential hopeful in 2008, could be leaning toward Romney as well, despite well-publicized differences between the two earlier this year. On the Laura Ingraham Show, Huckabee said: “We’ve got good candidates that aren’t getting enough airtime, I was keeping count. Rick Perry got 15 questions posed; Rick Santorum and Herman Cain got five. I’ve been in that situation when you're stuck out on the edge of that platform and you’re given token opportunities to respond and it’s very difficult to break out when the press decides who is going to be in the game and who isn’t,” according to Huffington Post
Driving home Huckabee’s point, Think Progress
’s Matthew Yglesias wrote on Monday: “In a race where the nominee is basically going to be either Rick Perry or Romney, things like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney taking swipes as Perry last week constitute de facto support for Romney.”
, who has come under intense fire for his comments about Social Security, calling it a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie,” a possible signal of his intentions should he be elected president, Huckabee added: “Perry hurt himself a lot with his Social Security talk and what he said may be technically true, but you go to South Florida or even any part of Florida or even the part where I live in the panhandle where you have a lot of retired people and essentially say that Social Security is a criminal enterprise, that’s problematic.”
While Pawlenty’s endorsement
of Romney is not seen as a game-changer, it could be a sign of the GOP’s “elite support” for Romney, HuffPo notes.