Pawlenty: Romney "most electable" in "two-person race"

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty said that part of the reason he decided to endorse former Massachussettes governor Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination is that he believes Romney to be the "most electable" candidate of what he believes is now a two-person race.

"It does look like a race between Governor Romney and Governor Perry," Pawlenty said Monday on the Hugh Hewitt Show. "I think he's the most capable, knowledgeable, and electable."

ADVERTISEMENT
But while the electability argument has been a familiar refrain from Romney supporters, the campaign may be having difficulty selling the idea. A CNN poll released today found that 42 percent of Republican primary voters saw Perry as the most electable candidate, versus 26 percent for Romney.

Still, Pawlenty said that he thinks Romney has the better chance of drawing in independent voters in swing states.

"He has the best shot of winning over not just the Republicans and uniting conservatives, but the independents," Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty also said that his endorsement hinged partially on the social security issue, which has dominated the Republican race since Perry said last week that the retirement program as currently constituted was a "Ponzi scheme" and a "monstrous lie." The Minnesota governor echoed criticisms about Perry's word choice in describing the program.

"Governor Romney has the better position here," Pawlenty said. "It needs to be maintained in a way that allows it to be maintained for current and future seniors."

Pawlenty dropped out of the GOP race after a poor showing in the Ames Straw Poll, where he finished third after Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Romney. Perry did not announce his candidacy until after the straw poll concluded, but immediately rocketed to frontrunner status.