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Associated Press, Published February 10 2011

Former Minnesota governor responds to Dayton's criticism

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty answered his successor's sharp criticism over the state's fiscal shape during an appearance on national television Thursday.

Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, the likely Republican presidential candidate responded to Democrat Mark Dayton's remarks during his first State of the State speech as Minnesota governor. Dayton said he inherited a "horrendous fiscal mess" from Pawlenty.

Pawlenty said Thursday the state's $6.2 billion deficit isn't unusual; that in fact 49 of 50 states are running a deficit caused by the "worst economic collapse since World War II.

Asked what might stop him for running for president, Pawlenty joked it would only be his wife. Then he went on to say his family is supportive of any decision, but that a run for president creates a burden on the candidate's family. Pawlenty says he expects to make a final decision in a month or so.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.