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Pawlenty keeping his options open

The former Minnesota governor, who's talked about on and off as a running mate for Mitt Romney, left the door wide open to a return to politics at a Monday event:

Pawlenty gave a policy-heavy speech Monday to a half-filled auditorium at the University of Minnesota, where he spoke of the "casino" atmosphere of big banks, his "evolution" on cap-and-trade environmental policy, the transformational nature of natural gas to the energy markets and the need to raise the retirement age and to use means testing for people not yet near retirement age.

He was more vague about his future. Asked whether he might run for U.S. Senate or for governor in 2014, he replied: "I haven't ruled anything in or out."

He reiterated that he's not interested in the vice presidency, though that's the kind of disavowal that tends to fade when the job is actually offered. There's plenty of speculation in both DC and Minnesota about the possibility of a next act for Pawlenty, who is such a political animal that it's easy to imagine him trying for a comeback.

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