Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty preempted his long-expected presidential announcement Tuesday when he told CNN interviewer Piers Morgan “I’m running for president.”
 
Pawlenty’s remark, his first direct acknowledgement of his candidacy, came in response to a question about whether he would accept an offer to run as a VP from someone like Donald Trump’.
 
"I'm running for president," Pawlenty said, "I'm not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for Vice President. So I'm focused on running for president."
 
Pawlenty has formed a presidential exploratory committee, but until his taping for the Piers Morgan Tonight show, which airs tonight, Pawlenty has never flatly declared himself as a candidate for the GOP nomination in 2012.
 
It is unclear whether Pawlenty’s remark to the British journalist was intended to be his official announcement. Aides have said privately to expect a formal announcement in the coming weeks. Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant downplayed the remark. In a text message, he told the Star Tribune “He did not make news. He said he’s not running for VP. Said that lots of times.
 
According to the Federal Election Commission, an individual is no longer considered to be “testing the waters” when he makes or authorizes statements referring to himself as a candidate.