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Tim Pawlenty again on campaign trail — for financial services group

REUTERS/Brian Snyder
As a GOP presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty, shown at a 2011 Tax Payer Tea Party Rally in Concord, N.H., decried the excesses of Wall Street.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty is a acting like he’s on the campaign trail again with a recent surge of videos, media interviews and Twitter posts.

But Pawlenty isn’t selling himself. As president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable — an association for banks, insurers and credit companies — he’s working on a rebranding of the association prior to a new era of  financial regulation that’s expected following the selection of a new chair of the Federal Reserve Board.

“We understand the Fed will engage in more regulation,” he told me Thursday. “But our members want these regulations to be common-sense, without strangulation of capital investment.”

Pawlenty recognizes his member companies will face skeptics in their request for regulatory leniency. As a GOP presidential candidate, Pawlenty himself decried the excesses of Wall Street. He maintains he holds that view today.

“I still believe there is no such thing as ‘too big to fail.’ There was an era of bad judgment, including in companies outside of Wall Street,” he said. “We need to regain that trust, and we are doing so.”

Pawlenty said the FSR has no official position on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s replacement. President Obama is expected to announce a new Fed chair this fall. “Some of our members like [Fed vice chair] Janet Yellen, some like [former Secretary of the Treasury] Larry Summers,” he said. “We won’t weigh in beforehand.”

The FSR member list includes what Pawlenty calls a “wide swath” of financial companies, including those involved in asset management, risk management (specifically cyber security), lending and leasing and credit services.  Rebranding the group, according to Pawlenty, will aim at “boiling down” the core of membership to better communicate to a primary audience of lawmakers, regulators, policymakers and academics.

FSR is also reorganizing as Pawlenty completes 10 months on the job. On Thursday, he named Minnesota native Eric Hoplin the group’s executive director. Hoplin, originally from Detroit Lakes, has an extensive business background and a long association with Pawlenty, for whom he volunteered on several campaigns.

But there’s no political campaign in Pawlenty’s future. “I’ve been down that path,” he said. “It was a great experience. But now I’m concentrating on this job.”

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