Pawlenty, 51, will take over from the retiring Steve Bartlett as CEO of the Washington-based group that represents 100 of the biggest financial-services companies, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America. Corp. and Citigroup Inc. The new job means quitting his post as national co-chairman of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, Pawlenty said today.
In a Bloomberg Television interview last year before he ended his presidential run and joined Romney's campaign, Pawlenty said his "truth message to Wall Street is going to be, 'Get your snout out of the trough'." He was viewed as a potential Romney running mate before the former Massachusetts governor selected Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
"Obviously, I was one of the voices saying we need to fix the problems," Pawlenty said in an interview today. "There's been an attempt to fix them. Now we just need to make sure they don't overreach and stifle economic investment and job growth."
Pawlenty, who campaigned as a "Sam's Club Republican" concerned with issues affecting the middle class, will represent the interests of the large financial firms across a broad range of business, from insurance giants such as State Farm Insurance Cos. and money managers including BlackRock Inc. to payment networks like Visa Inc.
He informed the Romney campaign in the last few days that he'd be stepping down, he said.
"My role with the campaign was as a volunteer, so I didn't have any official day-to-day responsibility," Pawlenty told reporters today in Washington. "They were very gracious and said it's a terrific opportunity, understood the need to make a career decision."
In a statement, Romney called Pawlenty a "dear friend" who brought "energy, intelligence and tireless dedication to every enterprise in which he's ever been engaged."
"While I regret he cannot continue as co-chair of my campaign, his new position advancing the integrity of our financial system is vital to the future of our country," Romney said in the statement.
Pawlenty, who begins work in his new job Nov. 1, joins the trade group as it works to influence implementation of the Dodd- Frank Act, the 2010 law enacted in response to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
"We went through a big crisis, had a big reform take place," Pawlenty said in the interview today, adding that the job now is to insist the changes don't discourage capital deployment and employment growth. "It's not a question of repealing Dodd-Frank. It's a question of refining it," he said.
Tom Wilson, the Allstate Corp. CEO who serves as chairman of the roundtable, lauded Pawlenty in the group's statement as a highly successful chief executive who will create win-win solutions and push for firm-but-fair regulation.