Gov. Tim Pawlenty defended Arizona's new immigration law at a Heritage Foundation dinner in Minneapolis Monday night.
The law requires state and local police to determine the status of people if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are illegal immigrants, and to arrest those who are unable to provide documents proving they are in the country legally.
Pawlenty said the Arizona law is being mischaracterized as a tool to enable racial profiling.
"So this notion that you can just randomly pull someone over is not true," Pawlenty said. "You have to be able to articulate the probably cause for why you pulled them over for something else, and then you have to secondarily articulate why you would be asking about their immigration status, other than their appearance and race and ethnicity"
Pawlenty recently started political action committees in New Hampshire and Iowa, key early states in a race for the Republican presidential nomination. But the governor said that he won't make a decision on running for president until after the 2010 elections.
Pawlenty also talked about health care, the economy and education during his speech. He repeated his vow that the state would not enroll residents early in Medicaid.