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Slight jab at Palin from Pawlenty in wide ranging interview with NYT

As he turns to focusing on the national stage shortly after leaving Minnesota’s governor’s office, Tim Pawlenty is making his way through numerous high-profile interviews. He appeared on both Good Morning America and The View on Tuesday morning, and on Monday he sat down with The New York Times for an interview addressing a wide number of topics, ranging from Afghanistan to health care reform.

The Times’ Michael Shear opened the interview by asking Pawlenty about the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon, Ariz., on Saturday. Pawlenty took a rare, though slight, jab at Sarah Palin’s use of cross hairs on a number of Democratic districts on a pre-election map, including Giffords’.

“I wouldn’t have done it,” Pawlenty said when asked if he would have used a similar image.

It was a rare dig on the former Alaska governor from one of her potential 2012 Republican rivals, as most in the GOP have been largely deferential so far to the conservative media star. However, though Pawlenty disagreed with the use of cross hairs, he went out of his way to make positive statements about Palin in other sections of the interview. “There’s no indication at present that those cross hairs, Fox News, any particular commentator or show or set of remarks or person was a motivating factor in [the shooter's] thoughts,” Pawlenty said.

Later, when asked if Palin would be on his short list of vice-presidential nominees should he secure his party’s nomination, Pawlenty dismissed the idea, stating that if Palin has her eyes on another political position it would just be the presidency. “To be blunt, I think Sarah Palin is capable and qualified to be president, and I’ve said that many times publicly,” Pawlenty said.

The 25-minute interview addressed a number of topics, such as why Pawlenty has delayed announcing a presidential campaign despite making moves of an official candidate. Pawlenty said that he is still weighing his impact on the country and what he can add to the field, as well as more personal concerns, such as “the impact on my family and my other life obligations and that’s not a small matter.”

Shear asked Pawlenty which of President Obama’s cabinet picks he most favored. “I really like [Sec. of Education] Arne Duncan’s emphasis on teaching reform…For a Democrat, he’s been unusually candid about the teacher’s union blocking reform, and so I respect that. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says and does, but I really like Arne Duncan’s boldness in taking on those issues,” Pawlenty said.

Watch the full interview below:

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