Tim Pawlenty becomes first Republican to launch Presidential campaign
Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor has become the first bona fide Republican candidate to launch a campaign for the party's nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.
Struggling for name recognition against better-known probable opponents, Mr Pawlenty announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, which in recent times has served as the signal for entering a primary campaign.
The exploratory committee would clear the way for Mr Pawlenty to raise money and hire campaign staff, and require him to file formal paperwork with the US Federal Election Commission.
A 50-year-old conservative Republican who ran a Democratic-leaning state for two terms, Mr Pawlenty has methodically moved toward a national campaign since announcing in 2009 that he would not seek a third term.
He enters a wide-open field for the Republican nomination. A dozen Republicans have said they are considering running but there is no clear front-runner so far.
Mr Pawlenty's biggest hurdle to his party's nomination may be that he is far less well-known nationally than other Republicans who are expected to stand, including Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor.
So far, only Herman Cain, a radio host, and Buddy Roemer, who last held public office as governor of Louisiana in 1992, have formed exploratory committees. The latter said he was entering in disgust with the poor quality of the Republican field.