Likely presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty (R) on Tuesday praised House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for proposing his tough budget.

"Thanks to Paul Ryan in Congress, the American people finally have someone offering real leadership in Washington," the former Minnesota governor said in a statement. "President Obama has failed to lead and make tough choices his entire time in the White House." 

But Pawlenty said that "the budget is going to be debated for several months to come" and that the more immediate concern is a vote in Congress to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

Statements from potential 2012 presidential candidates on Ryan's budget will be closely scrutinized, since observers have said it could loom large over the campaign landscape. Pawlenty was the first potential candidate to release a statement on the budget.

"It will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee," New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote Monday.

Ryan's plan will slash $5.8 trillion from current spending levels over 10 years, but would not balance the budget for at least two decades. It also proposed drastic reforms to Medicare and Medicaid.

Pawlenty instead focused much of his statement on the debt limit, saying it should not be raised.

"That's a really bad idea. With over $14 trillion debt already, we should not allow Washington’s big spenders to put us further in the hole," he said. "We must get our fiscal house in order with real spending cuts and with real structural reforms that stop the spending spree before it bankrupts our country."