[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/24/art.pawlenty.gi.jpg caption="Pawlenty is said to be on McCain’s VP shortlist."]
(CNN) – Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was able to dodge questions about the vice presidential game – for a second.
At a news conference outside a Bloomington, Minnesota gas station to promote John McCain’s energy plan, the questions turned to whether he’s atop the presumptive Republican nominee’s running mate shortlist.
Pawlenty paused and turned to the gas station owner next to him. To laughter, the owner said “I’m really flattered you’re considering me, asking that question.”
But the governor offered little more, saying he has “stopped engaging in the discussion.” He told reporters, “I’m honored to have my name mentioned. I have just stopped engaging in the speculation because I think it is largely speculation, and it just fuels more speculation.”
He said any answer he gives only opens new avenues for reporters, saying “If I saw anything different, one word even different than what I said a week ago or yesterday, then it becomes more speculation....I’m a national co-chair for the campaign, and the campaign has asked officials not to discuss or speculate on the VP stuff, so I’m trying to respect that as well.”
Pawlenty declined to answer whether he has been vetted or given information to the campaign, saying only “you’re kind to ask.”
He was pressed by local reporters on whether campaigning for McCain has taken time away from his job as governor: Pawlenty has traveled out of the state three times this week, though he said one trip was state education business. “I was here yesterday, I’m here today and I’ll be here tomorrow...it’s not accurate to say I’ve gone all week,” he said.
Asked how much time he spends on the McCain effort, he said, “It varies from week to week. Some weeks I hardly do any McCain stuff, and there’s some weeks where I do more of it.”