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Pawlenty’s next stop: New Hampshire

Pawlenty’s next stop: New Hampshire
By Eric Black

Gov. Pawlenty will take his I’m-thinking-about-running-for-president campaign to New Hampshire in December. According to New Hampshire Political Report (subscription only), the visit will make him the first of any of the likely 2012 presidential candidates to visit the state that, in case you hadn’t heard, holds the first primary.

Details of the visit were not revealed. Pawlenty has not, of course, announced his presidential candidacy and continues to suggest that his political activities outside Minnesota are all about helping Republicans in the 2010 election cycle. Yeah, right. So cautious reporters will seize on the visit to New Hampshire, (as they did the recent visit to Iowa) as a clue that his sights are set on a 2012 White House bid. But we’re all grown-ups here. In the modern era, the day a candidate announces for president is essentially a media event, not a major political development. Even if TPaw changes his mind before that day arrives, he is, for now, an active candidate for president (yes, just like R.T. Rybak was a candidate for governor months before he announced.)

By the way, the estimable Minnesota politics pundit Dan Hofrenning of St. Olaf, stuck his neck out on Almanac last weekend and predicted flatly that Pawlenty will be the Repub nominee in 2012. (Hofrenning’s partner on that Almanac panel, David Schultz of Hamline, described Pawlenty as a distant fourth in the GOP nominee-stakes, behind Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin.) Hofrenning’s blunt prediction elicited a shocked “wow” each from Schultz and co-hosts Eric Eskola and Cathy Wurzer.