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Tim Pawlenty to form an exploratory committee: Will being the first help?

Tim Pawlenty will become the first 'serious' Republican candidate to form an exploratory committee, which allows him to raise campaign funds. The announcement is expected on Facebook.

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With his wife Mary at his side, likely Republican presidential hopeful, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty speaks with reporters after talking with doctors and workers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, March 11, in Lebanon, N.H.

Jim Cole/AP

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Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) will announce an exploratory committee for a presidential campaign Monday afternoon, an aide said. The move will make him the first serious contender for the Republican nomination to set up such a committee.

Mr. Pawlenty is expected to make his announcement at 3:00 p.m. via Facebook, a sign of how important social media have become in politics.

Though not well known among the general public nationally, Pawlenty is respected in conservative circles for his budget-cutting during two terms as governor of Democratic-leaning Minnesota. He wins points for his affable, mild-mannered personal style, but that can also translate into a lack of charisma that could make him hard to notice in a crowded Republican field. Pawlenty, an evangelical Christian, is also a committed social conservative.

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Pawlenty has been methodically preparing the way for a presidential run for many months – assembling advisers , traveling to early primary states, raising money for his political action committee, releasing a book – so his announcement comes as no surprise. But by being the first of the serious players to launch an exploratory committee, he is likely hoping for a boost from the free media that comes with being first.

“From now on, he will be identified as first to announce,” says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. “That gives an indication that he’s working it hard – and people usually want to give the nomination to someone who’s working hard.”

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