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Report: Kline leading Pawlenty’s quiet-but-growing Hill efforts

WASHINGTON — Rep. John Kline is leading behind-the-scenes outreach efforts for Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Capitol Hill, as the prospective presidential candidate attempts to better introduce himself to members of Congress in advance for a possible 2012 run.

A detailed report in Roll Call (which I’m linking to in its free sister publication CQ Politics so you can read it) outlined the efforts, which include holding breakfast chats with lawmakers, endorsing candidates and donating to both candidates and party committees through his Freedom First PAC.

Pawlenty may be polling in the single digits right now, but it’s worth remembering that only he and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are currently doing the legwork generally required of serious presidential aspirants.

The whole thing is worth a read, but here are some of the key bits:

With the unofficial kickoff of the next presidential cycle some eight months away, Pawlenty’s outreach to Republicans on Capitol Hill so far has been organized but minimal. But compared to some of the other potential candidates, including presumed GOP frontrunner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Pawlenty could also have the furthest to travel when it comes to ingratiating himself with Members of Congress.

Just before the spring recess, Kline set up a casual introductory breakfast meeting for Pawlenty with fewer than a dozen GOP members. During the informal conversation, Pawlenty and his team discussed the upcoming May 18 special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th district, among many other topics.In an online forum on March 29, Pawlenty endorsed seven candidates for Congress across the country through his political action committee — including businessman Tim Burns, the GOP nominee in the Pennsylvania special.

Pawlenty’s PAC also cut a $10,000 check to the National Republican Senatorial Committee last quarter and met with NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) and more than eight GOP Senators on a recent visit to Washington, D.C.

“It’s important for Tim to meet people, not only for a possible run in 2012, but the reason for the PAC is to help Republicans in these races,” Kline said. “It’s importantly for Tim and his team to look around the country and see where the PAC might be helpful.”

Also of note: Reporter Shira Toeplitz reports that Rep. Erik Paulsen is also involved in Pawlenty’s outreach efforts. While Rep. Michele Bachmann has been to some events, she’s still keeping her powder dry when it comes to officially or implicitly backing a 2012 hopeful.

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