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Tim Pawlenty talked to his press secretary, Brian McClung, after arriving at a private fundraiser at the International Market Square in Minneapolis.

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

Pawlenty close to announcing plans

  • Article by: RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER
  • Star Tribune
  • May 18, 2011 - 10:33 PM

Prior to a high-dollar Minneapolis fundraiser on Wednesday, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he will announce whether he is running for president "soon."

"It won't be just yet. But it'll be a few weeks or less," the Republican said before starting his 400-person fundraiser. His spokesman Alex Conant said would not say how much the $2,500-per-plate event would raise but said it would be Pawlenty's biggest fundraiser of the quarter.

Still, Pawlenty's dollar haul will likely be paltry compared to presumed Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. Even Pawlenty admits that.

"Gov. Romney will be the unquestioned money champion. He is the front-runner. He ran last time. He's got a big financial network around the country," Pawlenty said. A proof of Romney's ability: on Monday alone, he raised $10 million.

Pawlenty also didn't say he could raise more money than Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is also eyeing a presidential run. Bachmann raised $2.2 million in the first three months of this year.

Pawlenty said he would raise enough to run "at least a Buick campaign."

The former governor, who has been working on a run for years, dismissed early polls as largely a measure of name recognition. Pawlenty said he expects his name identification to improve -- a year ago, he said, about 15 percent of Republicans knew him. Now, he said, about half the Republicans do. Still, his polling strength remains in the single digits.

Pawlenty claimed he had the unique ability to bring all sorts of Republicans to his side -- from Tea Party activists to conservatives more interested in national security.

"I've got the genuine ability to appeal to all of that and put the whole coalition together, unite the party, and then still go out and win in places that are swing states," he said. "I think we've got the most momentum."

Pawlenty said he would "speak the truth" and come up with "not just rhetoric but solutions" for what ails the country. Asked for an example of those solutions, he simply said: "Stay tuned."

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