Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) on Friday suggested that the healthcare law signed by President Barack Obama's is similar to the one endorsed by one of his potential GOP presidential primary opponents.

Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, Pawlenty was asked about the new healthcare law compared to the universal healthcare law in Massachusetts signed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R). Both Pawlenty and Romney are presumed to be seeking the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

"I would just defer to all the people, including the president and others, who have said there are a lot of similarities between it," he said.

This week, the president has made direct comparisons between Romney's law and the plan that passed Congress with only Democratic support. 

Pawlenty is a staunch opponent of the healthcare law and wants it repealed, and could be seeking to put a wedge between himself and Romney, who left the governorship in 2007.

Over the past week, the Minnesota governor has made subtle hints at Romney's connection to the law conservatives have dubbed "ObamaCare," telling  a New Hampshire newspaper "Looking at the Massachusetts experience, it would not be one I would want for the country to follow any further.’’

Romney has defended his state's plan, saying that the national plan, passed on a party-line vote, contains more harmful provisions than his does. 

Pawlenty said that if Romney was in office now, he would scale back parts of his state's plan.