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Pawlenty announces candidacy -- and then unannounces

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Tim Pawlenty
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, Monday, March 7, 2011, at the Point of Grace Church in Waukee, Iowa.
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty made his most direct statement yet about his presidential ambitions during an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan Tuesday. And then started backtracking.

  Morgan asked Pawlenty whether he would consider running as a vice presidential candidate with Donald Trump. 

"I'm running for president," Pawlenty said. "I'm not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for vice president. So I'm focused on running for president."

When Morgan said he thought that sounded like an announcement, Pawlenty replied a formal announcement would come soon but he's headed in that direction.

Pawlenty moved quickly to knock down any speculation that he had officially entered the race.

Spokesman Alex Conant says the quote was taken out of context. He says a formal announcement by Pawlenty about running for president would come later this spring. Morgan's PR representative didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment sent Tuesday night.

      Pawlenty formed an exploratory committee last month.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)