[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/30/art.pawlenty0730.gi.jpg caption="Tim Pawlenty on Thursday sidestepped questions about his 2012 White House ambitions."](CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is still sidestepping questions about his White House ambitions – feeding speculation that has surged in the wake of his decision not to seek a third gubernatorial term next year.
"Well, I've got a year and a half left to be a governor of the state of Minnesota and that's going to be the focus of my attention," he told CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room Thursday after being asked whether he was planning a presidential run.
"But I am in Minnesota and elsewhere going to try to speak to how my party can do a better job. Obviously we got our tails kicked in the last two elections, Wolf, we need to do a better job. I think I've got some ideas to share but that's really going to be focused on how we can do better in 2010, I'm not thinking beyond that."
Pawlenty, who will take the center stage with party leaders this week at the Republican National Committee Summer Meeting, has taken on a progressively higher profile over the past few months.
The Minnesota governor, named vice chair of the Republican Governors Association this summer in the wake of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's resignation of the top spot, has emerged as a major critic of the president's health care reform plan, blasting it this week in a letter to Minnesota's congressional delegation.
Earlier this week, he raised eyebrows when he also took a swipe at the health care plan Massachusetts launched under then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a potential 2012 presidential rival.
Watch Tim Pawlenty on the Situation Room today at 4 p.m. ET.