A one-time Republican rival of Mitt Romney’s has emerged as a leading contender to be the former Massachusetts governor’s running mate.

FOX News Radio’s Jared Halpern takes a closer look at Tim Pawlenty in our ongoing series “Veepstakes”:

Tim Pawlenty, a two-term Minnesota Governor, was an early critic of Mitt Romney. Remember this phrase from the GOP primary?

(Pawlenty) “President Obama said he designed Obamacare after Romney-care and basicially made it Obamney-care.”

But after dropping out of the race nearly a year ago, Pawlenty quickly endorsed Romney becoming a frequent campaign surrogate.

(Pawlenty) “I think he’s going to be a transformational and great President for this country.”

Pawlenty remains popular in Conservative circles for restricting access to abortions and expanding gun rights as Governor.

But Minnesota is hardly a swing-state, voting for Democrats the last nine presidential elections. And during his own presidential run, Pawlenty struggled with name recognition.

Jared Halpern, FOX News Radio.

 CLICK HERE to see Part One of FOX News Radio’s special series “Veepstakes”.