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Pawlenty says no formal White House announcement yet

Former Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty told a CNN interviewer on Tuesday he was "focusing on running for president" but was not ready to make a formal announcement.
/ Source: Reuters

Former Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty told a CNN interviewer on Tuesday he was "focusing on running for president" but was not ready to make a formal announcement.

Asked whether, hypothetically, he would consider being vice president with someone like Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, Pawlenty replied: "I'm running for president. I'm not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for vice president. So I'm focused on running for president."

But asked if he was making a formal announcement, Pawlenty responded: "I've got an exploratory committee up and running and we'll have a final or full announcement on that in the coming weeks, and it won't be too much longer. But everything is headed in that direction."

Before the "Piers Morgan Tonight" show aired, CNN ran excerpts from the interview, including the "I'm running for president" quote, without showing Pawlenty's explanation there would be a later announcement. That prompted a Pawlenty aide to deny he had made an official announcement.

"Of course he didn't announce tonight," Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant said.

"(The) governor has said this many times before. He is not running to be anybody's vice president," Conant said. "He will have a formal announcement about running for president later this spring."

Trump, a real estate mogul and reality TV star, tied with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee for first place, at 19 percent, among a list of would-be Republican presidential contenders in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey. Pawlenty trailed far behind at 2 percent.

Pawlenty last month became the first Republican to show serious intent to run, announcing in a video on his Facebook page that he would set up a presidential exploratory committee, a formal step toward seeking his party's nomination.

Republican Mitt Romney announced on Monday he was forming an exploratory committee to raise money for a challenge to Democratic President Barack Obama. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, made an unsuccessful bid for the party's 2008 presidential nomination.