(Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images )
Reporting from Washington — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Thursday that he would sign off on Paul Ryan's controversial budget plan if elected president.
Speaking to reporters in New Hampshire, Pawlenty emphasized, however, that he would offer his own fiscal blueprint in the coming campaign that would be different from the Wisconsin Republican's.
"We'll have our own plan. But ... if I can't have that, and the bill came to my desk and I had to choose between signing or not Congressman Ryan's plan, of course I would sign it," he said, according to a transcript distributed by his campaign.
After Pawlenty launched a campaign with the pledge to speak honestly about the nation's challenges, Democrats made a point of trying to elicit a definitive position from him on Ryan's plan, the most controversial aspect of which is an overhaul of the Medicare program.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich now infamously was tripped up when asked if Republicans should continue pressing for Ryan's plan even after the public backlash against it; he called it "right-wing social engineering," but later said he would support it.
Pawlenty's endorsement of it came with the caveat that his own proposal "will have some differences," specifically on Medicare. He also said he would address Social Security, which Ryan's plan does not.
Pawlenty is in New Hampshire, host of the nation's first presidential primary, as part of his post-announcement tour.