Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will announce Monday afternoon that he's forming a presidential exploratory committee, NPR's Frank James reports. Pawlenty has been widely assumed to be running for the Republican nomination for months now, but the formation of an exploratory committee will allow him to raise money.
"T-Paw," as the 50-year-old is affectionately known, is setting himself up as the "generic" Republican left standing after all other candidates are knocked off by various interest groups, David Frum writes. Pawlenty criticized fellow potential candidate Haley Barbour for saying money could be cut from the Pentagon's budget. This leads Frum to observe:
This is the same Tim Pawlenty who clears every utterance on tax policy with Grover Norquist, who has called for the reinstatement of Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell, and who has repudiated his own prior leadership on climate change. ('Have I changed my position? Yes.') What we are witnessing is the unfolding of a Pawlenty campaign strategy to occupy the spot that once seemed reserved for John Thune: the most generic of all Republicans, the sole remainder after every constituency in the GOP has exercised its veto: the tax people, the life people, the gun people, the defense people, the anti-Obamacare people, etc. etc. etc. Along the way, a successful, pragmatic Midwestern governor has had to reinvent himself, down to his own voice and accent.
Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has conservative support for his anti-spending record but has faced criticism called for a "truce" on social issues, isn't expected to announce whether he is running until after his budget fight with the state legislature. But Politico's Ben Smith says a bid is looking less and less likely: Daniels hasn't returned campaign donations from a controversial donor, and his wife is openly against a run.