Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has taken the first formal step toward a possible run for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination next year. Pawlenty announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee on Monday.
Pawlenty used social networking to announce the formation of his exploratory committee by posting a professionally produced video on his Facebook social networking page.
“There is a brighter future for America. We know what we need to do: grow jobs, limit government spending and tackle entitlements [government pension, health care and welfare programs],” he said.
Pawlenty added that it was time for the people of the United States, in his words, to “take back our government.”
Setting up an exploratory committee is usually the first formal step toward a presidential bid and allows the prospective candidate to raise money and hire staff.
Pawlenty is the first major Republican contender to take the initial step of setting up an exploratory committee.
Pawlenty is 50-years-old and served as governor of Minnesota for eight years. During that time, he was known for cutting billions of dollars from the state's budget deficit without raising taxes.
Pawlenty has been emphasizing his budget cutting experience in appearances before Republican voters in some of the early presidential contest states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
He recently spoke to a social conservative group in Iowa. We have a problem in Washington, D.C. We have some of the leaders there who believe that the enormous, immoral debt in our country does not matter. It matters! Just because we followed Greece into democracy does not mean we follow them into bankruptcy!,” he said.
Pawlenty also talks about his Christian faith and his opposition to abortion - topics of interest for socially conservative voters who play a major role in some of the early Republican presidential contests in Iowa and South Carolina.
Recent public opinion surveys show Pawlenty with little support in what is expected to be a crowded Republican field.
Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown says it is possible that a relative unknown like Pawlenty could emerge from the 2012 Republican field because, at the moment, there is no clear front-runner for the party nomination.
But Brown adds that Pawlenty has a lot of work to do to get his name known outside of his home state of Minnesota.
“It may well be that the Republican primaries will produce a dark horse [a little known contender that makes an unexpectedly good showing], who might wind up being the nominee and who is basically unknown. I’m sure if you went to a typical shopping mall in the United States and asked people who Tim Pawlenty or Mitch Daniels were, my guess is that you would get a lot of blank stares, he said.
Mitch Daniels is the Governor of Indiana and another possible Republican presidential contender:
Public opinion polls show that the potential Republican Party candidates with the most support include former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich. All four are bunched near the top of most opinion surveys, even though none of them has officially declared his or her candidacy.
Several other lesser-known Republican contenders might also emerge in the months ahead. Political analysts expect many of those interested in running for president next year to formally announce their intentions within the next few months.