WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s first big fundraiser for his newly formed political action committee got off to a rollicking start tonight at a popular D.C. bar, with more than 500 people paying $25 to $50 to meet the Republican from Minnesota.
In an eight-minute speech to a crowd of mostly young Republicans, Pawlenty touched on familiar themes, including his working-class roots, what he called his ability to prevail with a conservative agenda in a state that leans left, and the work that the GOP needs to do to be more inclusive and capture the independent vote.
Although the governor again declined to say if he had made a decision on running for president in 2012, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said that he would endorse him if he did.
Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., said that he thinks Pawlenty’s rising national profile is good for the state, but would not say if he would endorse the governor if Pawlenty decides to run for president.
Pawlenty stayed late at the event, talked to reporters briefly outside, and then proceeded on to a higher-dollar fundraising event at the home of lobbyist John Milne and his wife Deb Anderson. Guests at that event were asked to raise or contribute $5,000 to Pawlenty’s “Freedom First” PAC.
Estimates on how much money was raised at tonight’s fundraising events were not available.