(CNN) – One of Mitt Romney's top surrogates said Tuesday that Democratic attacks against the likely GOP nominee over Bain's role in a company's bankruptcy were unfair, pointing out Romney was no longer making decisions at the company when the steel plant in question was shuttered.
"Every third party group who has looked at that attack ad on the Obama election campaign has said it's misleading, false and unfair," Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, said on CNN's "Starting Point."
Pawlenty made the point as two ads – one from President Barack Obama's re-election team, and one from the super PAC Priorities USA – hit Romney for his time as the chief executive at Bain Capital. Both ads feature GST Steel, a company that went bankrupt and closed in 2001, eight years after Romney's private equity firm purchased it.
Romney left the company in 1999, but has continued to benefit through the company, though his campaign has noted that Romney's finances are held in and managed by a "blind trust."
Pawlenty said on CNN Tuesday Romney had turned his attention to the Salt Lake City Olympics at the time GST Steel went under.
"When that set of events occurred, Mitt Romney had left Bain Capital, two years removed from Bain Capital, and was leading the charge to restore and turn around the Olympics," Pawlenty said. "If you look at his record at Bain overall, it's a story of net job increases, not net job losses."
On Monday, Pawlenty said again he wasn't interested in becoming Romney's running mate, telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune he wasn't putting himself in contention.
"I'm going to take my name off the list, so if ... you're a journalist, an observer, remove my name from the list," Pawlenty said, according to the newspaper.