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Pawlenty downplays PAC's role

CANNON FALLS, Minn. - Despite rising national attention to his newly formed political action committee, Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday continued to deny the group is his vehicle for a 2012 presidential bid.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty speaks Thursday
Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday speaks to members of the Cannon Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Earlier in the day, his political action committee was unveiled. Mike Longaecker / Red Wing Republican-Eagle

CANNON FALLS, Minn. - Despite rising national attention to his newly formed political action committee, Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday continued to deny the group is his vehicle for a 2012 presidential bid.

"It's not geared towards me running for president," he said after speaking to Cannon Falls Area Chamber of Commerce members.

The governor's visit fell on the same day as the official launch of his Freedom First PAC.

In a YouTube video appearing on the PAC's Web site, timpawlenty.com, he asks for support while addressing taxes, government accountability and American ideals.

"This is an important time in America," the second-term Republican says in the 1 minute, 52 second video. "The stakes are high. And standing on the sidelines isn't an option."

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The PAC allows Pawlenty, who announced in June that he would not seek re-election, to raise money for political candidates and travel expenses.

The announcement - buoyed by news that Pawlenty also assembled a team of advisers with ties to presidential campaigns - reignited national attention to his possible presidential run. A headline beneath a photo of Pawlenty on the conservative-leaning Drudgereport.com screamed "CAN THIS MAN CONQUER OBAMA?"

Pawlenty downplayed the significance of the advisers, saying they were culled to help him build support for other politicians.

"They bring a lot of experience, wisdom and talent to the effort," he said.

According to Politico.com, the list of advisers includes Terry Nelson, Sara Taylor and Phil Musser, all described as GOP consultants with presidential experience.

Steve Sviggum, Pawlenty's close friend and Cabinet member, said the governor had "not directly" spoken to him about any presidential aspirations.

But the Department of Labor and Industry commissioner who also attended Thursday's speech said he "absolutely" sees Pawlenty as presidential material.

"Gov. Pawlenty has the capability to be a national presence and to make a real difference - not just to the state of Minnesota - but to the nation,"

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The Red Wing Republican-Eagle and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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