Yes, he really does call himself "T-Paw." Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) moves one step closer to the starting line for the 2012 presidential race today.
A team of veteran Republican consultants -- Terry Nelson of the Bush and McCain campaigns, Sara Taylor, the Ken Mehlman-trained ex-White House political director, and Phil Musser, a former RGA executive director who remains close to Mitt Romney -- and fundraisers will be announced as charter members of his Freedom First political action committee, which will allow him to perform the help-GOP-candidates-win-and-collect-presidential-chits two-step that is a necessary precondition before starting a campaign. Pawlenty has enlisted virtually every major Republican Web 2.0 consultant -- Liz Mair, Patrick Ruffini, Mindy Finn and Patrick Hynes, to help him create a website that is so 2.0y, it's like one of those supermarkets with every single specialty area.
The founding message of the PAC is this:
"Right now, our freedoms are being challenged on many fronts," Pawlenty will say, in a press release that'll go out later. "This organization is dedicated to putting freedom first again in America. 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."
According to Politico's Jonathan Martin, the PAC will be co-chaired by veteran Bush fundraiser William H. Strong, Morgan Stanley's vice chairman, and Republican ubiquitite Vin Weber, the former Republican congressman from Minnesota. Alex Conant, a former White House policy aide, will be the communications director.