Tim Pawlenty endorses Mitt Romney for President ***With continuous updates***

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Tim Pawlenty endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination in an interview this morning on Fox News: “I believe he’s going to be our party’s nominee.”

9:44 a.m. – Ezra Klein sees Pawlenty’s early endorsement of Mitt Romney as an anti-endorsement of Rick Perry.

9:37 a.m. – Dave Weigel thinks Pawlenty’s earned a place on Romney’s short list:

The early endorser, who doesn’t court media attention for his Hamlet Act, looks loyal. He looks like a possible running mate. So Pawlenty stays somewhat relevant, “Obamneycare” means less than ever, and Romney gets… a bounce? Do we actually think that? Pawlenty left the race as the anti-Romney-who-couldn’t-pull-it-off. The TPaw voters I talked to in Iowa and New Hampshire didn’t sound like they were as faithful to him as faithful to the idea of beating Romney.

9:25 a.m. – Pawlenty says he doesn’t want to be Vice-President:

“I’m not going to consider being VP. I was down that path once before with John McCain, and I’m not even going to consider that.

So I’m going to do what I can to help Mitt in this race, but that won’t be part of the future for me.”

8:24 a.m. –  Politico: “Pawlenty’s endorsement will give at least a symbolic boost to Romney and could help shake loose some other unaligned establishment support in the race. Because Pawlenty struggled to catch on with the general public, it’s not clear that his nod will bring, on its own, a huge number of rank-and-file GOP voters into Romney’s camp.”

8:03 a.m. – Here is the op-ed Pawlenty has penned in support of Romney:

Great crises often produce great leaders. Unfortunately, sometimes the timing isn’t right, and neither is the leader.

Barack Obama came into office in the midst of a great economic crisis. Although hopes were high, he did not rise to the occasion. Now that the clouds of enthusiasm and excitement have parted, we see he was obviously unsuited for the task at hand.

President Obama has failed to meet America’s economic challenges.

His three years of spending, regulating and taxing have not restarted the economy. Unemploymentremains at a shocking 9.1 percent. Economic growth is hovering on the edge of a renewed recession.

Abroad, the standing of the United States appears uncertain and adrift under the failed leadership of a president who prefers chastising allies to condemning foes.

Fortunately, America may get a second chance: Mitt Romney is running for president, and I am proud to endorse him.

Alone among the contenders, he possesses the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament. His abiding faith in our country’s exceptional historical position as a beacon of freedom will make him the most important leader in a world that depends upon a strong America to stay at peace.

Having served as governor of Massachusetts, he turned that state’s budget around from deficit to surplus while simultaneously cutting taxes, but that is not the full measure of what he will bring to the presidency. His time in government was a moment of service — a way to give back to our country — following a distinguished career in the private sector, where he launched companies and turned around troubled ones.

When the 2002 Winter Olympics were on the verge of collapse thanks to a bid-rigging scandal, Romney was asked to take over. The attacks of September 11 created a security nightmare. Romney presided over a highly complex security mobilization, addressed the management troubles plaguing the games, and staged one of the most memorable competitions ever seen on American soil.

Romney is running for president because he is deeply committed to our country, troubled by its current condition, and I believe he can turn it around.

He’s formulated an economic plan — a set of alternatives to the government-oriented programs that Barack Obama has put in place — that is unparalleled in the history of American electoral campaigns. By pressing for fundamental change in the way that Washington taxes and spends, issues regulations, uses energy, interacts with our major trading partners, and deals with our labor force, he fully envisions a way to place America back on the path toward rapid economic growth and full employment.

And at his core, Mitt Romney is a man of great character. He and his wife Ann have been married for more than four decades. She is the love of his life. Together, they have five sons and 16 grandchildren.

But he’s not only a family man, he is a man of principle. He believes in the bedrock conservative ideals of limited government and free enterprise. He will stand up for America’s allies when they are threatened, with fortitude. And he will face down our adversaries. He is a formidable person, and he will certainly be a formidable president. Our allies can count on it, and our enemies should expect it.

Crises indeed produces great leaders. Sometimes it just takes awhile.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.