Pawlenty thanks Bush for 'keeping us safe'

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) tuned into former President George W. Bush's primetime television interview Monday night, and he liked what he saw.

"Fascinating to hear George W. Bush discuss some of his major decisions. Mr. President, thank you for keeping us safe," Pawlenty, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, tweeted.

Many Republican leaders over the past two years have not publicly spoken much about Bush, who left office in January 2009 with his approval rating hovering near 30 percent. 

Bush did garner praise from GOP leaders in August when President Obama announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq. They argued Obama should give greater credit to the ex-president for instituting the 2006 troop surge, which most experts agree helped quell sectarian violence in the war-torn country. 

Bush appeared in an hour-long NBC special in which he answered questions about many key points of his presidency, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 financial bailouts.

The 43rd president largely defended his sometimes-controversial foreign policy decisions and his administration's sanctioning of waterboarding terror suspects.