Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is mulling a 2012 GOP presidential run, steps up his game Monday when he makes his debut before the national political press corps.
Pawlenty will meet with reporters at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor, a session with a goal to let journalists who have never met him "see him in person and get to know him," said Alex Conant, the communications director for Pawlenty's Freedom First political action committee.
The governor wraps up his second term this January. He has said will decide in early 2011 if he will run for the White House. Pawlenty founded Freedom First to give him a vehicle to raise money for other GOP candidates and to give him a platform to speak out on national issues.
"He's been traveling the country for the past few months, but a lot of people outside of Minnesota don't know him, including some members of the Washington Press corps. This is a fun way for him to share his story and his vision for 2010 and answer press questions," Conant said.
Pawlenty is raising money for a variety of 2010 Republican candidates across the country running for governor, Senate and House seats and state offices, a traditional way for presidential aspirants to earn chits while at the same time raising their visibility and making connections with local party leaders.
He has been one of the few Republicans so far to show much activity in Iowa
, whose early presidential caucuses have been a battleground for White House hopefuls.
While Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC is based in Minnesota, the potential 2012 White House hopeful has also opened up an office in downtown Washington and staffed it with campaign and White House veterans.
Pawlenty's team includes:
- Communications: Conant, a former spokesman in the George W. Bush White House and the Republican National Committee.
- Policy: Brian Hook, who worked for the George W. Bush's State and Justice Departments. A graduate of the University of Iowa Law School, Hook also has connections in Iowa, the state with the first presidential caucus.
- Fund-raising: Brian Haley, who was the McCain presidential campaign deputy finance director.
- Senior advisers: Phil Musser, a former adviser for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign; Terry Nelson, an Iowa native who served for a time as McCain's 2008 presidential campaign manager and, Sara Taylor, an Iowa native who ran Bush's White House office of political affairs.