WASHINGTON — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is set to make a “major announcement” at 3pm ET Monday on Facebook to formally kick off his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, FOX News confirmed.
The widely-expected move will start with the creation of an exploratory committee to allow the boyish-looking 50-year old to formally raise money without having to file campaign contribution reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). In recent years, it has become the preferred stepping stone toward the announcement of a full-blown candidacy.
Pawlenty’s announcement via Facebook — which will be available to supporters who “like” the candidate on the social networking site — mirrors the last presidential election in 2008, when many candidates bypassed the traditional media to speak directly to voters.
By testing the waters via a committee, a candidate can get a sense of his or her ability to raise enough money to conduct polls, travel in various early primary states and set up local organizations and phone banks.
All of these things can be done without registering contributions, provided that candidates do not explicitly refer to themselves as a candidate or raise more than what is “reasonably needed” to test the waters.
They also cannot run ads or take specific actions toward qualifying for the ballot.
In the 2008 election cycle, most but not all of the candidates who formed a presidential exploratory committee ended up declaring themselves as official candidates.
If Pawlenty goes that route, he will face long odds in a crowded field for the Republican nomination. Only 48 percent of voters recognize his name, and he would lose by 14 percentage points to President Barack Obama if the general election were held this month, according to a survey last week from Public Policy Polling.
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