If politics is addictive, Tim Pawlenty may be going through withdrawal.
The former governor and presidential candidate turned trade association head weighed in on the Syrian crisis today with an opinion piece on ABCnews.com.
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The Financial Services Roundtable CEO believes the U.S. military must strike Syria. "The world's response to Syria is not just about Syria. It is also about ensuring the freak show of Assad-like leaders around the world recognize it is in their interest to adhere to the fundamental rules of a civilized planet," Pawlenty wrote.
"Of course, those rules will only be followed if they are enforced. Only America can lead those efforts. They cannot be led by the often inept United Nations, the morally indifferent leadership of China or the many well-meaning but mostly complacent countries in Europe."
He signed it as a former Governor and presidential candidate with no reference to his new job leading the Roundtable.
Insulting the U.N., China and Europe may not bother voters in Minnesota or even a majority of the Republican party, but what about Pawlenty's members, many of whom operate global businesses?
Gut reactions from several people I called all landed in the same spot: Perhaps Pawlenty is plotting a return to politics. One of the two Democrats currently representing Minnesota in the Senate, Al Franken, is up for re-election next year.
That thinking makes some sense. Pawlenty is only 52 and he's new to financial services, taking over the Roundtable less than a year ago. He's spent the bulk of his career in politics. He spent a decade in the Minnesota House of Representatives before being elected to two terms as the state's governor. He made a brief run for president in 2012.
But in an interview Wednesday Pawlenty ruled out a return to politics. He said he has no plans to challenge Franken or to run for president again.
"I've had a full run at elective politics and I don't expect to run in the future," Pawlenty told me. For good measure, he added: "I am completely focused on my current job."
Pawlenty said ABCNews asked him to write the piece and he agreed because he has a personal interest in the region, noting he has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan numerous times. "It's something I just felt personally strong about," he said. "It's just something I did in my personal capacity."