Pawlenty gears up for Iowa debate

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty speaks during a town hall meeting Monday, May 23, 2011, at the State of Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines, Iowa. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Tim Pawlenty, Iowa
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
AMES, IOWA - Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, who many believe has the most to lose in the upcoming Iowa straw poll, spent Thursday morning at a leisurely breakfast with wife Mary, his closest adviser. The former Minnesota governor told CBS News he plans to spend the day preparing for tonight's GOP presidential debate and will then go for a run to clear his mind. 

Saturday's straw poll is taken very seriously by the media and the Republican establishment. The results of the poll are regarded by many as a sign of which Republican candidate is connecting with Iowa voters -- and, subsequently, which candidate has the best chance at wining the first in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.

But first, Pawlenty will compete with seven other Republican contenders in Thursday night's GOP presidential debate. The moment will be a crucial one for Pawlenty, who, by some accounts, missed an important opportunity to prove his toughness in the most recent Republican match-up.

He quipped that his goal for the day is to drink less than three beers after tonight's debate.

Pawlenty also suggested that President Obama is increasingly vulnerable, citing poll numbers among independents in some of the key battleground states, such as Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The former Minnesota governor told the local press that he has put together a great ground game and organization that will help him do well in the straw poll. He will be offering a free bus shuttle service to get voters to the straw poll to help with that ground game.

CBSNews.com special report: Election 2012

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