Tim Pawlenty Launches PAC, Setting Stage for 2012

(AP Photo/John Watson-Riley)
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is setting the stage for a presidential run in 2012.

The Republican today officially announced the launch of his Political Action Committee, "Freedom First," which "will offer financial support to candidates committed to putting freedom before government, and provide organizational support for Pawlenty to promote his innovative, conservative message."

In a release announcing the PAC, Pawlenty previewed his potential line of criticism against President Obama, saying, "Right now, our freedoms are being challenged on many fronts."

"This organization is dedicated to putting freedom first again in America," he said. "By helping candidates and translating our ideas into policies that everyone can relate to and support, we can turn back the growth of Washington and renew the promise of freedom."

Launching a PAC is a standard move for politicians laying the groundwork for a presidential run. Pawlenty has announced he will not run for a third term as governor next year.

Hotsheet reported Pawlenty's plans to launch the PAC on September 22nd. As CBS News political director Steve Chaggaris pointed out, doing so provides Pawlenty "with money to financially support Republican candidates around the country - picking up political chits along the way - as well as fund his own political travel."

Pawlenty's PAC will be co-chaired by Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman William H. Strong and former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber.

The first fundraiser for Pawlenty's PAC will be November 4th in Minneapolis; entry to the reception is $1,000, and entry to the dinner is $5,000. To become an event chair for the event, a person must raise $100,000, which entitles them to two tickets to a private dessert reception with the governor as well as 20 tickets to the reception and dinner.

According to Politico, Pawlenty "has been quietly assembling the blueprint of a presidential campaign and will announce Thursday the support of a group of high-level political strategists and donors, complemented by a handful of top new media consultants."

He has reportedly turned to many of the operatives behind the successful 2004 reelection campaign of former president George W. Bush.