Tim Pawlenty announces (again) he’s running for president

Holly Bailey

Two months after filing an "exploratory" bid for president, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is set to make his White House ambitions official today. He will formally announce his bid for the 2012 GOP nomination at a town hall in Iowa this afternoon.

But presidential rollouts are no longer as simple as a candidate going before supporters to make their case for why they are running.  By the time Pawlenty goes on stage this afternoon at his announcement event, he will have confirmed his presidential bid several times in hopes of maximizing media buzz.

On Sunday, Pawlenty pre-empted his own Iowa announcement speech, releasing a two-minute video telling supporters what they've already known for months: He's running for president.

"I could give a speech and tell you I was running for president. I could have a podium with my campaign logo on it.  I could have balloons, red ones, white ones and blue ones," Pawlenty says as the video opens with footage of a campaign event that looks eerily similar to what his staging in Iowa will likely look like today. "I could promise that we can eliminate a $14 trillion debt, create jobs for 10 million people, restructure Social Security and health care--all without making any tough decisions."

"Or I could try something different. I could just tell you the truth. The truth is: Our country is in big trouble," Pawlenty adds, as he appears before the camera. "I'm Tim Pawlenty, and I'm running for president of the United States."

You can watch the video here:

But the video wasn't the only confirmation of Pawlenty's 2012 bid. On Monday, he authored an op-ed in USA Today officially confirming he will be a "candidate for president." And this morning, the former governor made the rounds of network news morning shows to tout his 2012 bid ahead of his Iowa announcement.

In an interview with NBC's "Today Show," Pawlenty said he would focus on the economy and out-of-control federal spending in his 2012 bid, but he declined to differentiate himself from rivals, including Mitt Romney--though he did admit Romney is likely to lead him in the race for cash.

NBC's Matt Lauer asked Pawlenty about the one key issue that continues to dog his campaign: the perception among Republicans that he might be too laid back to win the GOP nomination. Asked if he believes he has enough charisma to beat President Obama, Pawlenty seemed to get a bit prickly.

"I'm not running for entertainer in chief. These are serious times and they need serious people with serious solutions," Pawlenty declared. "So if you're looking for the loudest or a comedian in the race, vote for somebody else. But I'll bring the solutions forward that will actually fix the country."

You can watch the interview here, courtesy NBC:

(Screenshot of Pawlenty via YouTube)