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Pawlenty and Bolton team up to boost Romney, lower caucus expectations

Pawlenty and Bolton addressed a crowd of Romney supporters at his Edina headquarters.

On the eve of the Minnesota Republican caucuses, Tim Pawlenty and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton boosted Mitt Romney’s candidacy while lowering expectations for his performance.

Pawlenty and Bolton addressed a crowd of Romney supporters at his Edina headquarters, with the former governor later telling reporters that the goal is to keep Romney as one of the top three or four vote-getters in the Republican straw poll.

“Modest turnout means the caucuses lean toward the more conservative,” said Pawlenty, describing Romney as a solid conservative in a field where such competitors as Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are claiming ground further to the right.

Bolton just recently declared himself a Romney supporter and was a last-minute surrogate, in town for another event when he agreed to appear at the Edina rally.  He, too, made a plug for Romney’s conservative bona fides but tried to differentiate Romney from the field.

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“I think what he’s done on international and domestic issues shows he’s a solid conservative, but he is also capable of being presidential,” he said.  “We’re not running to be a debate coach.  I’ve seen presidents in difficult situations — situations that Romney can handle.” 

After the rally, Bolton and Pawlenty went their separate ways — Bolton to his event and Pawlenty to speak at his daughter’s college in Kansas. He will not be attending his caucus Tuesday.