Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is pushing across eastern Iowa with stops at a country club and country farm during a three-day trip that could be a preview of a 2012 presidential run.
Pawlenty says he's in Iowa to help Republicans on the fall ballot. At stops in Dubuque, Waverly and Cedar Rapids, he has promoted local candidates and left most with a check from his political fund.
But he's also been building connections with opinion leaders who will prove critical if he enters the presidential race. Iowa hosts the leadoff caucuses that start the nominating process.
The political die-hards giving up summer days to scope Pawlenty out say he's made a good initial impression, but it will take more than one visit to seal their support.
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