Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to announce on Monday that he is officially declaring his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. The governor has built up a pro-life record that is appealing to social conservatives.
Pawlenty’s campaign for the Republican nomination will have him become part of a field that is ultimately expected to be less crowded than previously though thanks to decisions by Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump and Haley Barbour to not seek the GOP nomination. Huckabee’s decision, in particular, is seen my many political observers as given Pawlenty a chance to resonate with pro-life voters in states like Iowa and South Carolina.
A Pawlenty aide confirmed to the Associated Press today that the announcement is forthcoming and the governor will make the announcement at 11:30 a.m. at the Historical building in Des Moines, Iowa — a state where Pawlenty has said he needs to do well in order to springboard to the upper echelon in the polls and capture New Hampshire and other states that vote next. After the announcement, Pawlenty is expected to deliver speeches in the Granite State along with Florida, New York, and Washington, D.C.
In addition to the former governor and state legislator, the Republican field is expected to have former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico and former Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana. The question remains whether other potential candidates like Sarah Palin, Rep. Michelle Bachmann or Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will join the campaign.
Pawlenty formed an exploratory committee in March and, since then, has crisscrossed the country meeting with Republican leaders, donors, potential campaign activists and civic organizations to gauge whether he would get enough support to make a bid. Although he is not well known outside of Minnesota, the region and Republican circles, his name identification is on the rise and many conservative political pundits say he will become a driving force in the campaign once more voters get to know him and his conservative fiscal and social issues record.
His numbers in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire have improved as he has spent more time on the campaign trail. And his blue collar family background is something Pawlenty has emphasized.
“Mine is a blue-collar story,” he said. “I think it has some appeal beyond the typical Republican stereotype. We all have visions for what the country needs going forward that may be different. … I think I would be unique among the potential candidates in my ability to unite the party broadly.”
“With all due respect for President Obama, I think he’s taken this country in the wrong direction,” Pawlenty said.
The former governor served as a state legislator and local city official before heading up the largely Democratic state — where he won two consecutive statewide elections with an increasing percentage the second time around in what was otherwise a poor 2006 election year for Republican candidates.
During his time as governor, Pawlenty built up a sterling pro-life record and worked closely with Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life to advocate the pro-life position. Following Governor Pawlenty’s two terms, the number of abortions dropped 14 percent and reached a 35-year low.
“Governor Pawlenty has been a powerful ally of MCCL and the pro-life movement for many years. He strongly supports life-affirming legislation to inform and support pregnant women, who are now feeling empowered to give life to their unborn babies,” says MCCL executive director Scott Fischbach.
He named Eric Magnuson, an attorney who has worked with pro-life groups, the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and told Minnesota agencies to reject Obamacare, which could fund abortions. He signed the Woman’s Right to Know Act, which requires informed consent and a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. The law was the strongest informed consent law in the country at the time, and Minnesota was the first state in the nation to ensure that women be provided with information on the ability of their unborn child to feel pain.
Pawlenty also signed into law the Positive Alternatives program passed by the state legislature in 2005 with the support of pro-life groups. The law, which provides state funding for pregnancy centers that help women with pregnancy support and abortion alternatives, has already proven successful in lowering the number of abortions.
The Minnesota Department of Health shows 13,037 women received services from the Positive Alternatives grant during the second grant cycle of the program, running from July 2008 through June 2010. More than 12,000 pregnant women were helped during the first two-year grant cycle, July 2006-June 2008. The Pawlenty-supported positive alternatives program is credited with dropping Minnesota abortions, in 2009, to the lowest point since 1975.
In April 2010, Pawlenty declared the month as Abortion Recovery/Awareness Month to help women negatively affected by their abortions.
Pawlenty also pleased pro-life advocates on bioethics issues by vetoing the Kahn-Cohen Cloning Bill in May 2008, which would have legalized human cloning and forced taxpayers to pay for the destruction of human life. He also signed, in May 2009, a bill to ban taxpayer funding of human cloning.
“We stand for protecting life and want to promote and celebrate a culture of life in Minnesota and in the United States of America. We stand up for those who have no voice,” Pawlenty has said. “We have a responsibility to defend the life of the innocent and the powerless. We must take it upon ourselves to protect all individuals in every stage of life, from the unborn to the elderly.”