Pawlenty backs McCain, Hayworth calls for 10 debates

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) hasn't changed his mind about Sen. John McCain (R).

He reiterated his support for the Arizona senator to reporters Thursday. The McCain camp circulated reports about Pawlenty's remarks but did not release a statement from the 2008 vice presidential prospect.
 
Pawlenty has been in a public courtship with the conservative wing of the GOP. In the New York special House election last year, he backed conservative Doug Hoffman over the GOP nominee. But in Arizona, Pawlenty opted to support McCain over his primary challenger, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.).
 
Hayworth, meanwhile, held a press conference Thursday at McCain's Phoenix campaign headquarters to publicly challenge his opponent to 10 debates.

McCain made a similar proposal to President Obama during the 2008 campaign, which wasn't accepted.
 
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said McCain would debate "all certified candidates," but he derided Hayworth's "desperate publicity stunt."
 
"While Senator McCain is today leading the fight on behalf of Arizonans to stop the government takeover of our health care system, Mr. Hayworth held a press conference in our campaign parking lot," Rogers said in a statement.