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    Former Minnesota Governor Pawlenty Joins US Presidential Race

    former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (center) (file photo)
    former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (center) (file photo)

    Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has officially entered the race for the U.S. Republican Party’s presidential nomination, hoping to become a viable alternative to the current frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.  But another prominent Republican governor has decided against a White House bid next year.

    Tim Pawlenty launched his 2012 presidential campaign in the Midwest state of Iowa, which will hold the first nominating contest early next year.

    The 50-year-old Pawlenty served two terms as governor of Minnesota and is little known nationally.  But some experts believe Pawlenty could position himself as a strong contender in the Republican field if current frontrunner Mitt Romney stumbles.

    Pawlenty talked about his priorities on NBC’s Today program.

    “Our country needs new leadership.  We have got to get this economy moving again.  President Obama unfortunately does not have the courage to look the American people in the eye and tell them the tough truth the things that we are going to need to do to get our spending under control.  I will do that,” he said.

    Another prominent Republican has bowed out of the race, citing family concerns.  Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is a favorite of economic conservatives and had been urged to run by former First Lady Laura Bush.  But Daniels has decided to pass on the 2012 race and joins other well-known Republicans now on the sidelines - including former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and New York businessman Donald Trump.

    One lesser known candidate who has also joined the race is Georgia businessman Herman Cain, the only African-American in the Republican field.  Cain is a favorite of followers of the Tea Party movement that advocates for a smaller central government.

    Cain announced his candidacy in Atlanta. “Just to be clear, let me say it again.  I am running for president of the United States and I am not running for second!,” he said.

    Those Republicans in the race at the moment include Pawlenty, Cain, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

    Romney and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman are also expected to enter the race soon.  Huntsman recently concluded his tenure as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China.

    Huntsman took issue with U.S. involvement in Libya in a recent interview on ABC’s Good Morning America program. “We probably do not need to be in certain parts of the Middle East where there are domestic revolutions playing out where we probably just ought to let them play out,” he said.

    Recent polls suggest a large number of Republicans are not satisfied with the current presidential field and would like to see additional candidates join.  Some Republicans are hoping to draft candidates into running who so far have said "No", including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.

    Ryan said he was not interested on NBC’s Meet the Press. “My point is I am not running for president.  You never know what opportunities present themselves way down the road.  I am not talking about right now.  And I want to focus on fixing the fiscal problems of this country,” he said.

    Republicans are still waiting to hear from two other potential contenders, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.  Palin says she has not decided on the 2012 race, while Bachmann has promised an answer by next month.

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