Pawlenty to take first step toward presidential bid 

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is taking his first step toward becoming an official candidate for the 2012 presidential campaign.

Pawlenty, a Republican, is expected to announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee at 3 p.m. on Monday, according to news reports. The committee will allow him to begin raising money and hire a campaign staff, and require that he file formal paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.

Few GOP 2012 hopefuls have formed exploratory committees, giving Pawlenty a potential early leg-up in the race for nomination.

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