WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty endorsed ex-rival Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination Monday and was promptly named a national co-chairman of the Romney campaign.
Less than a month after ending his own bid for the White House, Pawlenty told Fox News that Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is unmatched in his skills and experience at creating jobs and igniting the economy.
"I believe he's going to be our party's nominee and I think he's going to be a transformational and great president," Pawlenty said.
The endorsement came as Romney's one-time role as Republican front-runner is being supplanted by strong support for Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Tea Party favorite who polls now show leading the Republican field.
As a candidate, Pawlenty was known for his appeal to independent voters wary of more conservative candidates in a general election against Obama.
The Romney campaign separately issued a statement naming Pawlenty as a national co-chairman of his campaign.
"It is an honor to have Governor Pawlenty's support," Romney said. "Tim will be a trusted adviser as I move forward with my campaign."
Once seen as a strong contender for the Republican nomination to face Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 election, Pawlenty dropped out of the race on August 14 after a disappointing showing in the Iowa straw poll, a test of early strength among party candidates.
Before his departure, Pawlenty had sought to bolster his own chances by criticizing Romney's support for healthcare reform in Massachusetts with the term "ObamneyCare" -- an attempt to link Romney to the Obama healthcare reforms that are unpopular with Republicans.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Doina Chiacu)