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Pawlenty noticed nationwide

ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans may think their media report on Tim Pawlenty's potential presidential run only because he is their home-state governor, but the Republican is getting plenty of attention nationwide.

Online political writers have been watching Pawlenty closely. But so have traditional media reporters. Several national reporters attended his recent Iowa debut, along with about 10 Minnesota journalists and a few from Iowa.

Dan Balz, the Washington Post's big-name political reporter, is one example. He wrote a story indicating some top Republicans question Pawlenty's "instincts and his sure-footedness as a prospective 2012 presidential candidate."

Many observers say Pawlenty has tried to appear more conservative as he moves onto the national stage, but he told Balz: "In general, I've governed as a conservative in Minnesota, so being conservative isn't like a new development or a revelation."

Balz called what he sees as Pawlenty's movement to the right as "Romneyesque" because Mitt Romney in the last presidential race "lurched to the right in preparation for his presidential candidacy. ... The real risk for Pawlenty, as Romney learned in his unsuccessful 2008 campaign, is losing his true voice and his authenticity."

While Pawlenty refuses to say if he is really is running for president, he spoke to Iowa Republicans, and next month will visit New Hampshire. That takes care of the first two states to pick presidential favorites.

Pawlenty's out-of-state schedule continues to get more crowded. He is to headline an Alabama Republican dinner on Feb. 5. He was in Florida Friday and will be in Austin, Texas, in the coming days.

This summer and fall he spoke in South Dakota, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, California, Ohio, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Puerto Rico, New Jersey and Virginia.

Don Davis is employed by Forum Communications, Co. which owns the Daily Globe.

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.