A vast majority of Minnesota voters believe Gov. Tim Pawlenty can win the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination, according to a new Rasmussen poll.
Fifty percent believe Pawlenty will pursue a run at the White House, while 29 percent say it is very likely that he will, the poll found. Another 43 percent think the two-term governor, who has announced he will not seek re-election in 2010, is somewhat likely to run, while 18 percent say it is not very likely or not at all likely he will run.
On Tuesday, Pawlenty supporters began gearing up for a potential 2012 run by announcing plans to create Freedom First, a political action committee to elevate Pawlenty’s reputation among national Republican Party leaders. A high-priced fundraiser for the governor is set for November, the Star Tribune reported, fueling speculation that Pawlenty is preparing a bid to run for president.
However, the Minneapolis newspaper quoted Pawlenty as saying that the new PAC should not be seen as confirmation of his interest in running for president.
"It is just the opposite," he said. "This undertaking, as we plan it and envision it, would be to help other candidates on a federal level."
Other results from the Rasmussen poll of Minnesota voters: Fifty-six percent give Pawlenty a positive job rating, while 43 percent somewhat or strongly disapprove. Thirty-percent say they are very concerned about the time Pawlenty is spending out of state as a speculative presidential candidate, while 20 percent are somewhat concerned, 28 percent not very concerned, and 18 percent not at all. More than 40 percent of voters believe U.S. Sen. Al Franken is doing a good or excellent job, while 31 percent say the junior senator is doing his job poorly, and 23 percent give him a mark of fair. Fifty-six percent say Minnesota’s other Democratic senator, Amy Klobuchar, is doing excellent or good, 19 percent say she is performing poorly, and 23 percent say she is doing fair. Forty-nine percent either strongly or somewhat favor the White House pursuit of overhauling healthcare, while 48 percent are somewhat or strongly opposed.
Pawlenty received 73 votes (12 percent) in a straw poll of socially conservative activists at last week’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., the Associated Press reported. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 Republican candidate for president, won 170 votes, while former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, another potential 2012 presidential contender, received one less vote than Pawlenty and one more vote than former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate.
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