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Pawlenty all but declares for 2012 race

The Washington Post

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty plunged into the contest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination yesterday with a Facebook announcement in which he championed limited government and declared, "We the people of the United States will take back our government."

Pawlenty, 50, stopped a step short of a formal declaration, which is likely to come later in the spring. But his decision to establish a presidential exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission gives him the legal mechanisms to begin active fundraising and to build his campaign operation.

The two-minute video signaled the acceleration of what has been a slow-starting race for the GOP nomination, with other announcements expected in the coming weeks.

Likely candidates include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Considerable uncertainty surrounds the Republican race, thought to be as wide open as any in recent years. Among those still to be heard from are former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and former Alaska Gov. and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Pawlenty carries less obvious baggage than some of his better-known opponents. But it's unclear whether he can generate enough enthusiasm, some analysts say.

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