By Justin Sink
Tim Pawlenty, the former presidential candidate-turned-Mitt Romney surrogate, predicted Friday that the former Massachusetts governor would win his home state of Michigan.
Pawlenty, who was on John McCain's VP shortlist in 2008, also said he had taken his name out of consideration for the No. 2 slot.
As polls in Michigan show the race a virtual tie between Romney and Rick Santorum, Pawlenty predicted his candidate would win.
The former Minnesota governor attributed Romney's resurgence to voters becoming more aware of Santorum's record.
"I think the reason for that is Rick didn't get a lot of scrutiny when he was ... the second- or third-tier candidate, and now we see his record, and it's not the record of the true conservative he claims," Pawlenty said.
But the former Pennsylvania senator remains competitive in Michigan, the state Romney grew up in and where his father served as governor. Pawlenty predicted a Michigan win — setting high expectations for his candidate, who has struggled to gain traction thus far in Midwestern primaries — but said a loss wouldn't disqualify Romney's candidacy.
"I think Mitt is going to win Michigan, but if he doesn't, there's no state that's dispositive," Pawlenty said.
"Look at this race so far. If we've learned anything, it's that any one state … isn't make-or-break," he added.
Pawlenty was also asked if he would consider joining Romney as a vice presidential candidate, but firmly ruled out the possibility.
"The answer is I'm not going to be considering that and I've taken my name off that list," Pawlenty said. "He'll be able to pick from a lot of other people for VP."