Video: Tim Pawlenty enters Presidential race

  1. Transcript of: Tim Pawlenty enters Presidential race

    DAVID GREGORY, anchor (Washington, DC): To presidential politics now. The unsettled Republican field is starting to take shape. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is to announce that he's making a run for the White House in an event Monday in Iowa . He will then head to early primary state New Hampshire . Pawlenty is seen as a low-key establishment Republican who could run as an alternative to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney .

Tim Pawlenty
Jim Mone  /  AP
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty talks with reporters prior to a fundraising dinner Wednesday in Minneapolis.
updated 5/20/2011 4:13:43 PM ET 2011-05-20T20:13:43

When Tim and Mary Pawlenty step out for date night, the fine dining can be a sandwich over a garbage can at a Minnesota Wild game. His ride since leaving the governor's office is a used Ford Escape. His house is a trim two-story like millions of others in American suburbs.

In a GOP presidential race peppered with millionaires, Pawlenty is the closest thing in sight to a regular guy — and it's a card he plays often.

Pawlenty will declare his candidacy in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa on Monday, an adviser told The Associated Press. The adviser, who disclosed the plans on the condition of anonymity, said Pawlenty will then head to Florida, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, D.C.

Pawlenty often tells his "American story": a life that began in the meatpacking town of South St. Paul and continued through his dad's on-and-off work as a truck driver, the death of his mother to cancer when he was a teenager, and his bootstrapping through college and law school — the first in his family to go so far.

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All of it is essential to Pawlenty's bid to be seen as the Republican best able to relate to the economic anxieties of Americans, perhaps the key issue in the 2012 race.

"I know that feeling, I lived it," Pawlenty intones in an introductory video that includes black-and-white shots of young Tim, stockyards in their heyday and a small-town Main Street.

Slideshow: The public life of Tim Pawlenty (on this page)

He's stepped into some money-making ventures since leaving office. And a complete picture of Pawlenty's net worth isn't possible until he files federal disclosure papers this summer. But public documents gathered by The Associated Press suggest a man whose career as a lawyer and politician has made him comfortable but hasn't put him in the same league of wealth as his prospective rivals.

During Mitt Romney's first White House run, the former Massachusetts governor and ex-venture capitalist valued his wealth at $190 million or more. Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and ambassador to China, is heir to a billion-dollar family business. Mitch Daniels was a top executive at prescription drug giant Eli Lilly and Co. before shifting his focus to public office, including two terms as Indiana governor. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has done well through book deals and ventures like a cable TV contract, helping him afford a million-dollar home and an appetite for luxury purchases like jewelry from Tiffany's.

Story: The 2012 GOP presidential field

'He wasn't born with a silver spoon'
Pawlenty's friends describe a guy who can't wait to change from a business suit into blue jeans and boots. As a legislator, he enjoyed late-night runs to White Castle for sliders; as governor, he couldn't resist bowling alleys and other recreational detours while touring the state on official business. At 50, he still doesn't miss a chance to hit the ice for pickup hockey.

"He wasn't born with a silver spoon," said longtime adviser Charlie Weaver, a former chief of staff. "He comes from modest means, still does for that matter. He didn't get rich as governor, that's for sure."

Pawlenty doesn't have a monopoly on a blue-collar narrative, but he's making heavier use of it than others.

Pawlenty to launch presidential run next week

"There is a perceived benefit, apparently, to painting yourself as just another average guy who's not rich — an outside-the-beltway, down-home, salt-of-the-earth candidate just like you," said Paul Ryan, an attorney at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington.

As Pawlenty presses the theme, it rings hollow with Tom Rukavina, a Democratic state representative who frequently sparred with Pawlenty over his conservative governance.

"To me he's the perfect example of a politician who forgot where he came from," Rukavina said. "He was raised in a union household; how many times did he stiff the unions? He was raised in a working class community; how many times did he stiff the working class?"

Glimpse into finances
Minnesota's financial disclosure laws are weak, so only a partial glimpse of Pawlenty's actual wealth is possible until the federal form is filed.

He earned $120,000 a year during eight years as governor. Tax records value Pawlenty's house, which sits on one-third of an acre across from a quaint city park in suburban Eagan, at $321,500. Like millions of Americans, he's gone to the home equity well several times — most recently for $45,000 last year.

Mary Pawlenty worked as district court judge — pulling down $121,000 by the time she left the bench in 2007 — and she still does some mediation work. The couple have two daughters who attend a $15,000-per-year Christian private school, and one heads to college next fall.

Pawlenty's stock holdings appear to be limited to mutual funds of unknown value. Both Pawlentys will be able to draw on healthy public pensions upon retirement, him from two decades in elective office and her from 12 years as a judge.

In the last five months, Pawlenty published a memoir and traveled for a mix of book promotions, campaign events and paid speeches arranged through a speakers' bureau. Neither Pawlenty nor the hosts of his paid speeches would reveal terms of those arrangements, although fees for politicians of his stature can reach five figures. At least 10,000 copies of "Courage to Stand" have been sold, according to Nielsen BookScan.

Pawlenty faced questions over an earlier business arrangement.

In 2003, Pawlenty found himself explaining his failure to properly account for a short-lived legal consulting business that netted him about $60,000 from a political ally's company during a run for governor. Campaign regulators and state prosecutors investigated, but took no action. Pawlenty resolved the case by filing additional paperwork.

Pawlenty's earliest motions toward a presidential bid included an appeal for Republicans "to be the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club." It was a line he used before — in 2002, when he first ran for governor. Pawlenty's TV ads that year showed him next to his high-mileage Dodge Stratus, and informed voters that he worked the produce aisle to pay for his college.

Back then, it was a poke at his rival for the GOP nomination, a millionaire businessman who readily dipped into his fortune. Pawlenty outlasted the millionaire and went on to win his first term.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explainer: The 2012 GOP presidential field

  • A look at the Republican candidates hoping to challenge Barack Obama in the general election.

  • Rick Perry, announced Aug. 13

    Image: Perry
    Sean Gardner  /  REUTERS
    Texas Gov. Rick Perry

    Mere hours before a major GOP debate in Iowa (and a couple of days before the high-interest Ames straw poll), the Perry camp announced that the Texas governor was all-in for 2012.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Texas governor.

    While some on ground in the early-caucus state criticized the distraction, strategists applauded the move and said Perry was giving Romney a run for his money.

    Slideshow: A look at Gov. Rick Perry's political career

    He may face fierce opposition from secular groups and progressives who argue that his religious rhetoric violates the separation of church and state and that his belief that some groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America, should be allowed to discriminate against gays is bigoted.

  • Jon Huntsman, announced June 21

    Image: Jon Hunt
    Mandel Ngan  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman

    Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, made his bid official on June 21 at at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former governor of Utah.

    He vowed to provide "leadership that knows we need more than hope" and "leadership that doesn’t promise Washington has all the solutions to our problems."

    The early days of his campaign were clouded with reports of internal discord among senior staffers.

    Slideshow: Jon Huntsman Jr.

    Huntsman, who is Mormon, worked as a missionary in Taiwan and is fluent in Mandarin. But his moderate credentials — backing civil unions for gays and the cap-and-trade energy legislation — could hurt him in a GOP primary. So could serving under Obama.

  • Michele Bachmann, announced on June 13

    Image: Michele Bachmann
    Larry Downing  /  REUTERS
    Rep. Michele Bachmann

    Born and raised in Iowa, this Tea Party favorite and Minnesota congresswoman announced during a June 13 GOP debate that she's officially in the running for the Republican nomination.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Minn. congresswoman.

    Bachmann tells The Associated Press she decided to jump into the 2012 race at this time because she believed it was "the right thing to do."

    She's been criticized for making some high-profile gaffes — among them, claiming taxpayers would be stuck with a $200 million per day tab for President Barack Obama's trip to India and identifying New Hampshire as the site of the Revolutionary War's opening shots.

    Slideshow: The political life of Michele Bachmann

    But Bachmann's proved a viable fundraiser, collecting more than $2 million in political contributions in the first 90 days of 2011 — slightly exceeding the $1.8 million Mitt Romney brought in via his PAC in the first quarter.

  • Rick Santorum, announced on June 6

    Image: Rick Santorum
    Charlie Neibergall  /  AP file
    Former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum

    A staunch cultural conservative vehemently against abortion and gay marriage, the former Pennsylvania senator hopes to energize Republicans with a keen focus on social issues.

    He announced the launch of a presidential exploratory committee on FOX News, where he makes regular appearances. He make his run official on June 6 in Somerset, Pa., asking supporters to "Join the fight!"

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former Pennsylvania senator.

    No stranger to controversy, Santorum was condemned by a wide range of groups in 2003 for equating homosexuality with incest, pedophilia and bestiality. More recently, Santorum faced criticism when he called Obama’s support for abortion rights “almost remarkable for a black man.”

    Slideshow: Rick Santorum's political life

    Since his defeat by Democrat Robert Casey in his 2006 re-election contest — by a whopping 18 percentage points — Santorum has worked as an attorney and as a think-tank contributor.

    A February straw poll at CPAC had him in twelfth place amongst Republicans with 2 percent of the vote.

  • Mitt Romney, announced on June 2

    Image: Mitt Romney
    Paul Sancya  /  AP file
    Former Massachusetts Gov. and presidential candidate Mitt Romney

    The former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential candidate has spent the last three years laying the foundations for another run at the White House — building a vigorous political action committee, making regular media appearances, and penning a policy-heavy book.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former Mass. governor.

    In April, he announced, via YouTube and Twitter, that he'd formed an exploratory commitee. Romney made his run official in Stratham, N.H., on June 2.

    The former CEO of consulting firm Bain & Company and the president of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Romney frequently highlights his business background as one of his main qualifications to serve as president.

    Slideshow: Mitt Romney's life in politics

    To capture the nomination, Romney will have to defend the health care overhaul he enacted during his governorship — legislation that bears similarities to the Obama-backed bill despised by many conservatives. He'll also have to overcome the perception of being a flip-flopper (like supporting abortion rights in his 1994 and 2002 bids for office, but opposing them in his '08 run).

    In the first quarter of 2011, he netted some $1.8 million through his PAC "Free and Strong America."

  • Herman Cain, announced on May 21

    Image: Herman Cain
    Brendan Smialowski  /  Getty Images file
    Talk show host Herman Cain

    Cain, an Atlanta radio host and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has support from some Tea Party factions.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Atlanta radio host.

    An African-American who describes himself as a “citizen’s candidate,” he was the first Republican to form a formal presidential exploratory committee. He officially entered the race in May, telling supporters, "When we wake up and they declare the presidential results, and Herman Cain is in the White House, we'll all be able to say, free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, this nation is free at last, again!"

    Prior to the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate, Cain rehashed the birther theory, telling a Florida blogger, “I respect people that believe he should prove his citizenship ... He should prove he was born in the United States of America.”

  • Ron Paul, announced on May 13

    Image: Ron Paul
    Cliff Owen  /  AP file
    Rep. Ron Paul

    In 2008, Texas congressman Ron Paul’s libertarian rallying cry — and his opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — did not fall on deaf ears. An idiosyncratic foe of the Federal Reserve and a passionate advocate for limited government, Paul mounted a presidential run that was characterized by bursts of jaw-dropping online fundraising.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Texas congressman.

    Slideshow: Ron Paul

    He officially launched his 2012 campaign in New Hampshire, saying, ""The revolution is spreading, and the momentum is building ... Our time has come."

    In the first quarter of 2011, raked in some $3 million through his various political organizations.

  • Newt Gingrich, announced on May 11

    Image: Newt Gingrich
    John M. Heller  /  Getty Images file
    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

    The former speaker of the House who led the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” Gingrich remains a robust presence on the GOP stage as a prolific writer and political thinker. In recent years, Barack Obama has provided a new target for the blistering critiques Gingrich famously leveled at President Bill Clinton.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former speaker of the House.

    In early May, he made his 2012 run official. "I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run," Gingrich wrote on Facebook and Twitter.

    But a month later, the campaign was practically in ruins — with his campaign manager, spokesman, senior strategists all resigning en masse. Most cited issues with the "direction" of the campaign. But Gingrich vowed to press on.

    Slideshow: Newt Gingrich

    Also at issue: Gingrich’s personal life could make winning the support of social conservatives thorny for the twice-divorced former lawmaker. In a damning interview earlier this year, Esquire quoted one of Gingrich’s former wives describing him as a hypocrite who preached the sanctity of marriage while in the midst of conducting an illicit affair.

    Additional obstacles include his recent criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan as “right-wing social engineering" and reports of a $500,000 line of credit to Tiffany’s, the luxury jewelry company.

  • Gary Johnson, announced on April 21

    Image:Gary Johnson
    Jim Cole  /  AP
    Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson

    The former New Mexico governor took a big leap in late April, not by announcing an exploratory committee, but by actually announcing his official candidacy. “I’m running for president of the United States,” he told a couple of supporters and cameramen gathered for his announcement outside the New Hampshire State Capitol.

    He's a steadfast libertarian who supports the legalization of marijuana. He vetoed more than 700 pieces of legislation during his two terms as governor.

Photos: The public life of Tim Pawlenty

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  1. Republican Tim Pawlenty speaks after being elected governor of Minnesota, replacing Jesse Ventura on Nov. 6, 2002. Pawlenty had originally intended to run for Senate, but backed off when Vice President Dick Cheney urged him not to run against St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman (who was mounting a campaign against the late Paul Wellstone, a Democrat and critic of President George W. Bush). (Bill Alkofer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, meets with various economic advisors, including Michael Steele, Meg Whitman, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty on Oct. 26, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio. Pawlenty served as national co-chair of McCain's presidential exploratory committee and later became co-chairman of McCain's campaign. Though Pawlenty was considered a major contender for the vice presidential nomination, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin instead. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty speaks on day four of the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center on Sept. 4, 2008 in St. Paul. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is interviewed on the radio at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 12, 2010 in Des Moines. (Steve Pope / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signs copies of his new book, "Courage to Stand," at the Family Christian Book Store on Jan. 30, 2011 in Ankeny, Iowa. Pawlenty's book tour also took him through Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Dallas. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is welcomed to the stage by Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Feb. 11, 2011. In a high-energy speech that earned him a standing ovation, Pawlenty hit Barack Obama hard, saying, the president has "done the impossible," by proving that "someone can deserve a Nobel Prize less than Al Gore." (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty addresses the crowd at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit on Feb. 26, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Laura Segall / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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