Pawlenty Announces Presidential Exploratory Committee

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty pressed toward a White House campaign Monday by formally announcing an exploratory committee with a call for backers to help him “take back our government.”

“At a young age, I saw up close the face of challenge, the face of hardship and the face of job loss,” the Republican said in a two-minute video message designed to appeal to tea party activists and GOP rank and file facing economic insecurity.

“Over the last year I’ve traveled to nearly every state in the country and I know many Americans are feeling that way today. I know that feeling. I lived it. But there is a brighter future for America.”

The optimistic note harkened to another upbeat politician: President Barack Obama, who ran on the message of hope and change in 2008.

Pawlenty’s announcement of the exploratory committee almost certainly will lead to a full-blown candidacy for the GOP nomination in a field that has been slow to form. The winner would face the daunting task of unseating an incumbent president.

“We, the people of the United States, will take back our government. This is our country. Our founding fathers created it,” Pawlenty said in the Hollywood-style video that featured a soaring soundtrack. It was posted on his Facebook page Monday afternoon.

“Americans embraced it. Ronald Reagan personified it. And Lincoln stood courageously to protect it. That’s why today, I’m announcing the formation of an exploratory committee to run for president of the United States. Join the team and together we’ll restore America.”

It was the first definitive statement from a potential 2012 candidate on his or her White House campaign and Pawlenty said the exploratory phase wouldn’t last long.

“We’re not going to draw this out for a long period of time and I think the formal announcement or fuller announcement will come relatively soon,” Pawlenty told Fox News Channel in a primetime interview. “It’s not going to be six months from now. It will be sooner than that.”

The Republican presidential field has been slow to form compared to past election cycles as familiar names such as Sarah Palin mull bids and other potential hopefuls like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich work behind the scenes on their candidacies. The harsh media spotlight and the expense of a full-scale campaign operation deterred Republicans from early announcements in the expected race against Obama, who is certain to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.

“At this point, the clock is ticking. They’ve got less than a year,” said Mo Elleithee, a Democratic strategist who is a veteran of presidential primaries.

“The first votes are going to be cast in 10 months and it’s a lot of work to build an organization in Iowa and raise the money to start to develop your message. Ten months isn’t that much time.”

The first Republican presidential debate is just a few weeks away on May 2 in California.

Pawlenty, a conservative Republican who ran a Democratic-leaning state for two terms, has methodically moved toward a national campaign since announcing in 2009 that he wouldn’t seek a third term. Since then, he stepped up his travel to early contest states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, recruited Republican aides with presidential campaign experience, and courted GOP donors.

Pawlenty’s advisers are banking on a strong showing in Iowa to propel him through other critical primary states. He has made near monthly visits to Iowa since last summer and is due there the first two days of April. His next New Hampshire stop is scheduled for April 15, when he’ll take part in a tea party-sponsored tax day rally.

Pawlenty has made overtures to the fiscal conservatives and tea partyers whose top concerns are Washington spending and the national debt, as well as the social conservatives who oppose abortion and gay rights and hold sway in the leadoff Iowa caucuses. His efforts to appeal to a broad swath of the Republican Party signal that he’s trying to cast himself as a candidate who every party member can back.

In his Fox News Channel interview, Pawlenty sought to appeal to the segment of his party that places a premium on national security. He blasted Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi as a “confirmed terrorist who has the blood of our fellow citizens from America on his hands; in my view, he’s a psychopath.”

He said a no-fly zone, now in place, implemented earlier would have given rebels there a chance to overthrow Gadhafi. He said indecisive moves toward a no-fly zone led to a missed opportunity.

Pawlenty’s biggest hurdle to the nomination may be that he’s far less well-known nationally than other Republicans who are expected to run. A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted earlier this month found roughly six in 10 voters had no opinion of Pawlenty.

His limited national profile — despite being on GOP nominee John McCain’s short list for vice president in 2008 — may make it difficult to raise the millions of dollars needed to wage a credible campaign and build a strong operation.

All-but-declared candidates have started to assemble advisers and staff, yet aren’t rushing into the fray. Gingrich has announced he is weighing a run but hasn’t yet declared. Romney advisers say not to expect his announcement this month. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he will wait until his state legislature completes its work in April.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s term as the United States’ ambassador to China ends at the end of April and his supporters are planning a May announcement.

Others, such as former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, are calling activists in the early nominating states but have not yet made a public declaration.

Pawlenty, 50, was raised in a Minnesota meatpacking town, the son of a truck-driving father and a mother who died of cancer when he was a teen. He worked in a grocery to pay his way through college.

He began his political career on a suburban planning commission and the Eagan city council. He spent 10 years in the Minnesota House, serving as majority leader before becoming governor in 2002.

Pawlenty styled himself as a no-new-taxes governor, swatting down bill after bill that boosted state taxes. He didn’t take as hard a line on fees, and he consented to a 75-cent-per-pack “health impact fee” on cigarettes to end a partial government shutdown one year.

He signed legislation further restricting abortions and making concealed weapons permits more widely available, but social issues were hardly a centerpiece of his tenure. Pawlenty has added emphasis to his record on such issues as he moved toward a presidential run. His autobiography, released in January, was heavy on Bible references and traced his shift from Catholicism to evangelicalism.

Pawlenty still fits in the occasional pickup hockey game, as he did in New Hampshire recently while wearing a “T-Paw 12” jersey. He has a couple of marathon finishes, training alongside his wife, Mary. The couple has two teenage daughters.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Not for him


    • NObama

      Right now anyone would be better then obama 4 Trillion we cant afford another term

      • Tom


        Was there a budget surplus when Obama took office that the rest of us don’t know about? And If I remember correctly there was a Budget surplus when Bush took office back in 2000 and the Republicans quickly turned that into a budget deficit.

      • Iconoclast

        @Nobama – Your desperate need to hate the president has clouded your reasoning and judgment.

  • Gina Lovelace

    You forgot to mention he put Minnesota in a deeper hole. He wants child molester to get less treatment or jail time. He has done nothing at all. I would be scared for America if he was to become president.

    • CrazyMN

      What in the hell is going on? All these Minnesota Republicians think they are presidential material. Bachmann, pawlenty, scary, scary scary

      • Tom


        Just look at the type of people who they are getting support from. They are a group of people that don’t take much too impress them.

    • quest

      Go make me dinner and get my slippers

  • missy

    NOT President matterial THAT’S FOR SURE!! I won’t vote for him alot won’t vote for him what a waste of money.

    • quest

      You get me a beer!

    • Blinded

      and 4 trillion is ok by the obama admin,I think you should open you eyes

      • Tom


        Maybe you should open your eyes! Look at the response I gave too NOabma!

  • Iconoclast

    Poor smarmy little T-Paw is so out of it he does not know that he’s in over his head. The guy did to MN what Bush did to the country and now he wants to try and be the president. Not gonna happen Timmy two face. Your record is terrible and you are as likable and warm as a Minnesota walleye. I can’t wait to see you fall apart under the harsh national spot light.

    • Iconoclast

      @me – yeah he’s got executive experience at leaving the state worse off and more in debt then when he got voted in. He’s got executive experience raising your property taxes and increasing fees. He’s got executive experience being a slick little liar and a self promoting twit with only his interest in power being served. He’s bad news plain and simple.

      • Mike D

        You do realize that Tim went through one of the worst recessions in US history during his term. Get over the deficit he left, no one could’ve handled that economy.

    • me

      At least he has executive experience. That’s a lot more then the Community Organizer and Chief has.

      • katydid


      • K.

        WHAT????????????? Are you kidding me?

  • Dave Campbell

    This could help the job market! I can see lots of unemployed comics getting back to work with all of the material he will provide them!

  • lefty

    go explore the lower levels of the sudan mine but send the elevator back to the top when you get down to the bottom

  • Solly

    What a dud! If he were to get the GOP nomination, he wouldn’t even carry Minnesota. Even a political lightweight such as Michele Bachmann gets more attention than he does.

  • Maxwell

    Ha!! Who cares?

  • shirley


    • Iconoclast

      @WOW – Shirley is clearly suggesting that after T-paw’s horrible job as governor the state would not support him. Yes it’s conjecture but it’s highly informed and reasonable to assume.

    • WOW

      The State did vote for him, its ok I understand you rode the short bus didnt you!

  • St Paul

    Timmy is a fraud. He switches anything to suit whatever crowd he is speaking to next. He left Minnesota in a terrible shape. He wasn’t even present for the last few years he served as Governor!!! Tim is not a leader!!!

  • soapboxgod

    The only folks that’d vote for Pawlenty are Republican party loyalists; the go along-get along crowd.

    Tea party/Libertarians don’t want him. The Democrats wouldn’t want him. And frankly I don’t know that even the independents want him. He had support as governor from across a pretty broad spectrum but that was then…this is now.

    He’s nothing more than a big talker Betty Crocker.

  • St Paul

    Is Timmy’s brother the Governor of Wisconsin? They sure look and act alike!!!

    • so there....

      the govenor in WI is way smarter than Tim WAY WAY WAY SMARTER

      • cs

        ya tweedle de and tweedle dumb an pair of pees in a pod fricking morons

  • Another Bob

    Pawlenty / Bachmann 2012 !!!!

    • CS


  • Roseville

    He left us in Minnesota in such a financial mess that how he thinks he could run the country is unbelievable. He is the last person this country needs to make it morse.

    • Roseville is a ghetto

      Again – have you been living in a cave? Pawlenty governed during the worst recession in years. Get a new argument tool bag

      • CS

        excuses excuses bla bla bla GET FRICKING REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Roseville

        Where have you been living? With your head up your butt like the rest of Timmies friends?

  • Dave Campbell

    Pwawenty/Bachman would ensure a victory for Obama in 2012!

  • JRay

    Executive experience? He led the state deep into debt while chanting his no new taxes mantra. Meanwhile fees rose and taxes rose at the local level. Saying no to any idea that is not his own is not leadership, to me it shows a lack of leadership. He was never elected by over 50% of the voters which tells me that more than half of the voters in Minnesota did not want him or his ideas.

  • BBrooks

    He’s a joke, but a smaller one than Can’t Talk Straight nor Keep Facts Straight Bachmann.
    Which gets the highest dummy award is the only question. No … she wins. ;-)

  • Kurt

    Give it up!! we’ve had too much plenty already. We can afford any more>

  • Please Go Away

    Please go away T-Paw.

  • Steve

    I know that none of my conservative independent friends would vote for this liar. Fee’s are taxes. Just plain double talk and B S.

  • Frank

    He may claim that he worked his way through college by working in a grocery store. LIE LIE LIE. He got it paid for by the the same funding resources he vetoed and got rid of so the average person with great grades has an impossible chance of finding financial help to go to college too. What a Hippocratic phoney..

  • Steve

    Did anyone hear his fake accent he used at his speeches in Iowa and New Hampshire? What a phony!!

    • Iconoclast

      I know, I heard that too. The guy is seriously bordering on being a political sociopath. I would take Bush back before letting this guy get in.

  • Sick of Polotics

    He did such a great job in MN…why not try to ruin the rest of the country!

  • katydid

    Ha! Tim Plenty of nothing

  • Burton

    He’s “DIRTY” and on wrong side of the peoples best interest. As Governor of Minnesota, he defended raceteeer credit card loansharking in Minnesota. This put drag on the Attorney General’s effots to stop them from victimizing infirm residents. He defende the unlawful business practices of Custom Redelers and K-Designers. He permitted crooked employers to control the un-employment claims with one-sided application format…thus denying vistims of these crooked employers their rightfull and just unemployment compensation.. As Governor, Pawlenty didn’t represent anyone I know!

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