Gov. Tim Pawlenty capped a personally momentous week with a politically enterprising trip to Washington on Friday, squeezing in at least three speeches and a couple of interviews about his future plans.
Pawlenty's visit came four days after he announced he would forgo a run for a third term as Minnesota governor. It stoked suspicion that he'll pursue the presidency - an option he wouldn't rule out.
He made full use of his time in the nation's capital.
Pawlenty began with a breakfast speech to the Ripon Society, a group that promotes "traditional common-sense Republican principles."
He spent lunch as a special guest of the Republican National Lawyers Association. He was to be a keynote dinner speaker at a convention of the College Republican National Committee on Friday night.
“[Pawlenty's] going to get his butt kicked by Barack Obama.”Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak
In between, he sat for interviews with the Ripon Society's in-house publication and a CBS News Web segment.
Pawlenty said in the CBS interview that his Republican Party needs to do a better job attracting younger voters, women and diverse communities.
"We need to be about addition and multiplication, and not about subtraction and division," Pawlenty said when asked about conservatives pushing for a politically purer GOP.
Pawlenty declined to address speculation that he'll be a 2012 presidential candidate, but did say he would stay in front of the party faithful.
"I'm going to go out and speak around the country on the rubber chicken circuit at Republican events and other events, just to try to lend voice about how we can do better as a party," Pawlenty told CBS's Bob Schieffer.
Asked if he'll travel to Iowa, where the 2012 race for the GOP nomination gets going, Pawlenty said he had no such near-term plans.
Pawlenty told his Ripon Society interviewer that Republicans should be focused on helping the party succeed in 2010.
"Nobody should be looking ahead to 2012," Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty wasn't the only Minnesotan politician receiving national exposure on Friday. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a Democrat, was interviewed on FOX News Business about small business. He also was asked about Pawlenty's White House prospects.
"He's going to get his butt kicked by Barack Obama," Rybak said.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)