Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said Friday that he wished he had run for a third term as governor.

Pawlenty, the outgoing GOP governor and a possible candidate for president in 2012, said that if he had known that Republican candidate Tom Emmer would lose the race to succeed him, he might have opted to pursue a third term.

"Yes,” Pawlenty told the Duluth News-Tribune when asked if he wished he'd run again. The newspaper described the Republican governor's answer as coming without hesitation.

"If I would have known then what I know now," Pawlenty said, he might have run again. "Hindsight is 20/20.”

The governor's comments are head-turning for someone who's widely considered to be an eventual candidate for higher office.

Emmer lost in a closely contested gubernatorial election to former Sen. Mark Dayton (D). Pawlenty had campaigned hard on Emmer's behalf, despite the occasional report of behind-the-scenes friction between the two Republicans.