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Pawlenty keeps a strong presence in Florida

The blitz in Iowa continues, but Tim Pawlenty is keeping his sights on Florida, too, reports Politico:

The former Minnesota governor announced Friday that he’ll be taking time off from an all-out effort in Iowa ahead of next month’s straw poll for a two-day swing through Florida next week, taking him back to a state where he’s focused an intense amount of early energy — especially for a candidate who’ll need every last vote in Ames to prove his campaign’s still viable.

Today he starts a multi-city tour with fundraisers and meetings, first in Orlando, then Tampa and Miami.

The plan: hit Florida for campaign cash and support. No one else is pounding hard there, yet, and there are lots of convention delegates at stake. “If there’s an extended primary fight next year, Pawlenty’s set up the second-round Florida primary to be his campaign firewall,” the story says.

He was the only presidential candidate to accept an invitation to the January conference of the newly-formed Hispanic Leadership Network — a group that includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He’s kept up the attention, even flying straight to Miami after kicking off his presidential campaign in Des Moines in May. Along the way and since, he’s made several under-the-radar visits to woo state lawmakers, and signed up several old Jeb Bush hands to help make his case.

Pawlenty’s Florida state chair, Phil Handy, who led Bush’s gubernatorial campaigns and education agenda as chair of the state Board of Education, said those connections to the popular former governor haven’t gone unnoticed.

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