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Former MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty announces his pick for president

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Tim Pawlenty is supporting Marco Rubio.

The former Minnesota governor who earlier served in the state's House of Representatives went on CNN Monday morning to talk about the race and his endorsement of Rubio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9QZO6THgDM&feature=youtu.be

Pawlenty called the Florida Senator "strong" and "informed," adding Rubio is "conservative and electable, and he can unite the party, and you can't ask for much more than that."

The 55-year-old St. Paul native is currently CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, an influential banking lobbying group. He hasn't served in public office since leaving the Minnesota governor's mansion in 2011, but is still a notable face in the Republican party.

Pawlenty aka 'Lakefish'

Pawlenty ran for the Republican nomination leading up to the 2012 election, but dropped out after a poor showing in Iowa. Eventual nominee Mitt Romney then vetted Pawlenty as a possible vice presidential pick – though he eventually lost out to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

According to a fun behind-the-scenes fact reported in the book "Game Change 2012: Double Down" (and repeated here by Esquire), the Romney campaign used fish-themed code names during the VP vetting process, and dubbed Pawlenty "Lakefish" (presumably a nod to the state's many lakes).

Rubio was also considered, and named "Pescado" (Spanish for "fish").

Ryan's alias? "Fishconsin."

Pawlenty declared himself "retired politically" last year when his name was floated for certain offices, though noted the never-say-never rule is in play.

Rubio visiting Minnesota

Pawlenty's endorsement comes just a day ahead of Rubio's scheduled appearance in Minnesota.

Rubio will hold a rally at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis Tuesday afternoon. Doors will open at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, with the event starting at 3:15 p.m. Attendees must RSVP here.

That's also one week ahead of the Minnesota caucuses, which are March 1. That's when Minnesota voters will get to weigh in on who they think the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees should be.

Rubio is also coming off a second-place showing in the South Carolina primaries over the weekend (though he netted zero delegates for it, with Donald Trump winning and taking all 50).

Real Clear Politics has a running delegate tally – Rubio has 10 total delegates. The eventual nominee will need 2,472 to win. Trump leads right now with 67 delegates, and Sen. Ted Cruz has 11.

FiveThirtyEight is keeping track of endorsements, and giving points for each. So an endorsement from a U.S. Representative is worth 1 point, a U.S. Senator 5 points, and a state governor 10 points.

Pawlenty is not included – but right now, Rubio has a total of 101 endorsement points. That's way ahead of the next Republican candidate still in the race, Ted Cruz, who has 22 endorsement points.

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