Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) touted his recording of “taming” government spending in Minnesota, suggesting it could become a model for the nation as he explores a presidential bid.

“I think what Minnesota experienced over the last eight years is what the country is going to experience in the upcoming eight-year period,” Pawlenty said on Fox News. “In other words, we had to tame spending from a ridiculous level to sustainable, reduce taxes, market-based not government based healthcare reforms, performance pay for teachers, lawsuit abuse reform.”

“And if you can do it in Minnesota, you can do it anywhere,” he added.

Pawlenty said his accomplishments were doubly impressive because Minnesota is “a very liberal place,” boasting that the state is no longer in the top 10 in taxes and that the business climate improved during his two terms, which ended earlier this month.

Pawlenty acknowledged he is “seriously considering” a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 -- a fact that has been made obvious by his frequent visits to early primary states and the campaign-style book he recently published.

The former governor talked up healthcare reforms he enacted in Minnesota, but he declined to criticize a potential rival, Mitt Romney (R), for the healthcare law he signed as governor of Massachusetts, which Pawlenty has jabbed in the past.

“I'm not going to get sucked into criticizing Mitt. I consider him a friend,” Pawlenty said.

He said he would announce his 2012 plans “sometime in the late winter or early springtime.” Pawlenty came in third in a GOP presidential straw poll in New Hampshire over the weekend, garnering 8 percent of the vote. Romney won with 35 percent. Pawlenty is expected to make an aggressive play for the Iowa caucuses early next year.