An earlier report from Minnesota Public Radio indicated Paulsen had said, "No, that's ridiculous," when asked about a potential bid. But the congressman clarified to The Hill that he was responding to a question about whether he voted against the deal to avoid the impending tax increases and budget cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" because he was planning for a future run.

"[MPR] asked me … something like, 'Did you vote the way you did because you’re planning to run for Senate?' I said, 'No, that’s ridiculous,' " he said.

Paulsen is one prominent Minnesota Republican considered a likely challenger to Franken, whom Republicans hope will be vulnerable in his first reelection fight after his narrow 2008 win. He has indicated he will run again in 2014.

Franken will be a tough candidate — he’s worked hard to ingratiate himself in the state, and his poll numbers look fairly solid. But Republicans hope with the right candidate they can topple the first-term senator.