Washington (CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Monday he would not have used a map with crosshairs to target Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other Democrats during the midterm elections, but otherwise defended Sarah Palin from suggestions that her graphic may have influenced the man behind last weekend's shooting spree in Arizona.
"It's not a device I would have chosen to do. Everyone has their style and their own choices," Pawlenty told the New York Times when asked about the map. "But I don't want to have anyone infer that there's evidence in this case that it caused or was a contributing factor. We don't know that."
Pawlenty, an all-but-certain contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, is undertaking a media blitz this week to promote his new book, "Courage To Stand," which hits bookshelves Tuesday.
He elaborated on the Arizona shooting – and the contentious political debate that immediately followed - in another interview with the St. Petersburg Times.
"To draw some broad judgment or condemnation or conclusion based on the acts of a madman, particularly when all the facts aren't even in, is I think premature and unfair," he said. "There's no indication at present that this gentleman did anything that he did because of what Sarah Palin did or didn't do."
Pawlenty told the Florida paper he plans to announce his campaign "in a few months."
And speaking to the New York Times, he said the Republican primary will reveal a choice between Republicans standing on rhetoric, and those with a proven record of fighting for conservative principles.
He has pointed to his refusal to compromise on a 2005 Minnesota budget – a deadlock with the legislature that led to a partial state government shutdown – as an example of his political determination.
"The real question," Pawlenty said, is "who, really, based on their life story, who really, based on their record, has demonstrated that kind of fortitude? Not just to talk about it. Not just to flap their jaw. Not just to offer failed amendments. To get it done."