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Reaction to Pawlenty plans comes quickly

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ST. PAUL - Within minutes of word leaking that Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty would announce that he would not seek a third term, national political writers began reacting.

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Here is a sampling of news stories and blogs:

The decision to avoid a potentially difficult re-election bid next year will almost certainly be seen as the first step in a possible presidential run in 2012.

-- CNN

But Pawlenty has also been an outspoken advocate for a new approach for the GOP. He has repeatedly spoken of appealing to what he calls Sam's Club voters, independents more focused on pocketbook issues than on divisive social issues.

-- The Hill

That decision signals that Mr. Pawlenty is strongly considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

-- New York Times

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty won't seek a third term, a move which certainly doesn't diminish his prospects at the 2012 Republican nomination in an era when running for president is pretty much a full-time job, and when at least one of his Republican rivals is going at it full time. The move also frees him from the strictures of tough Minnesota campaign finance laws, which made presidential fundraising tough.

-- Politico

Given the difficult state of the economy -- both nationally and in Minnesota -- as well as Pawlenty's near-death political experience in 2006, running for a third term was a precarious endeavor. And, a loss in a 2010 bid would almost certainly disqualify Tpaw as a potential presidential candidate in 2012 ala former Virginia Sen. George Allen in 2006-2008.

-- The Washington Post

Pawlenty gave a firebrand speech at the Republican Governor's Association meeting in Miami, a week after the party's sound November election losses. He gave some tough medicine to the party, saying, "It needs to get younger, more diverse and build a broader coalition," we wrote at the time. "If we're going to successfully travel the road, as a Republican," he said then, "we need to see clearly, and be honest about where we've been and where we're headed. ... If we're going to be the majority, we're going to have to see we need to grow the party. We cannot compete in the Northeast, the West; we're losing seats in the Great Lakes region. We have a large deficit with women, Hispanics, African Americans -- people with modest financial circumstances. That is not a formula for a majority."

-- MSNBC

Though Pawlenty's prospects of winning reelection in 2010 were looking up as Minnesota's legislative session ended this year, he still plans to unilaterally cut a billion dollars from his state's budget, and that will make enemies locally. (It may, however, endear him to national conservative groups, who like politicians who take huge chunks out of state budgets.) Risking his presidential ambitions on another uncertain gubernatorial campaign, especially in the current economic climate, may not have seemed worth it.

-- Iowa Independent

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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