Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty says a top campaign adviser was wrong to suggest GOP rival Michele Bachmann's popularity was due partly to her "sex appeal."

One of Pawlenty's senior campaign advisers, Vin Weber, made the comment during an interview with The Hill, a congressional newspaper. Weber was explaining why he thought the Minnesota congresswoman would be difficult to beat in Iowa's leadoff nominating caucuses in February.

Pawlenty, Minnesota's former governor, told The Associated Press during a campaign stop Wednesday in Iowa that Weber wasn't speaking for the campaign and "you shouldn't use sex appeal in evaluating a candidate's fitness for office." Weber has apologized for the remark.

Bachmann recently finished near the top in an Iowa poll. Pawlenty was campaigning in northern and central Iowa Wednesday.