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Tim Pawlenty files paperwork for presidential bid

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty files with federal elections officials, the first major Republican to take such a step.

March 21, 2011|By Tom Hamburger and Melanie Mason, Washington Bureau
  • Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, an evangelical Christian, claims a unique appeal. "Mine is a blue-collar story," he said. "I think it has some appeal beyond the typical Republican stereotype.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, an evangelical Christian, claims… (Brian Frank / Reuters )

Reporting from Washington — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty filed paperwork with federal elections officials Monday to become a formal candidate for president, the first major Republican to take that step in what is expected to be a multi-candidate field against President Obama.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently announced his interest in the presidency and formed a fund to begin collecting money, but he has not yet filed a formal statement of candidacy.

Pawlenty already has put together a team in Iowa and New Hampshire and has visited both states repeatedly. In an interview last week, Pawlenty, an evangelical Christian, said he thought he had unique appeal to economic and social conservatives, as well as to working-class voters.

"Mine is a blue-collar story," he said. "I think it has some appeal beyond the typical Republican stereotype. We all have visions for what the country needs going forward that may be different.... I think I would be unique among the potential candidates in my ability to unite the party broadly."

Pawlenty discussed his plans Monday in a conference call with his top supporters and potential donors. He later made a public announcement via Facebook, in an online video whose creation underscored the importance of social media in the upcoming campaign.

Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, a Democrat turned Republican who has been out of office for almost two decades, also has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. Top Republicans, including Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are not expected to take formal steps toward a run for at least another month.

Pawlenty's nearly two-minute video posted on Facebook touched on his biography, recalling the economic downturn that occurred in Minnesota's Twin Cities during his youth.

"I saw up close the face of challenge, the face of hardship and the face of job loss," he said. "Over the last year, I traveled to nearly every state in the country and I know many Americans are feeling that way today.… But there is a brighter future for America. We know what we need to do — grow jobs, limit government spending and tackle entitlements."

Although he has received praise from national conservatives, Pawlenty has sometimes run into criticism back home for positions that included his support for environmental measures.

Once a strong supporter of cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, Pawlenty has since renounced those views.

"It's fair to say I've had a change of position and change of view, and the reason is it's a dumb idea," he told the National Review magazine.

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