Washington (CNN) – His top advisers have already started talks with key political players in South Carolina, and now Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential 2012 presidential contender, is planning his first foray into the crucial early primary state.
Pawlenty will travel to Spartanburg on May 7 to attend a reception benefiting the South Carolina Republican Party at the home of state GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd, giving him a chance to meet with party activists and donors who could support him if he decides to seek the White House.
“He is a rising star in the Republican Party and a lot of folks are excited to hear what he has to say," said Joel Sawyer, a spokesman for the party.
The next day, Pawlenty will travel to Rock Hill to host a fundraising breakfast for House candidate Mick Mulvaney, who is challenging longtime Rep. John Spratt in the state’s 5th congressional district.
Mulvaney was a supporter of Mitt Romney, one of Pawlenty’s potential rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, during the 2008 presidential campaign. Romney’s political action committee returned the favor earlier this year, cutting a $2,500 check for Mulvaney’s campaign.
Pawlenty has already spent time in Iowa and New Hampshire this year, but the May fundraising swing marks his first political stop in the Palmetto State, which has determined the GOP presidential nominee in every election going back to 1980.
Other potential candidates have visited the state in recent months to raise money or campaign for 2010 candidates. They include Romney, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.
But Pawlenty is going a step further than others in the 2012 field: His advisers recently began reaching out to several of South Carolina’s top political consultants - the same strategists that presidential candidates usually hire to steer their primary campaigns in the state.
According to multiple South Carolina GOP sources, Pawlenty senior adviser Terry Nelson met recently with four of the state’s most influential consultants: Warren Tompkins, Richard Quinn, Walter Whetsell and former state GOP chairman Katon Dawson.
“I think Terry Nelson is an impressive guy,” Dawson said of his meeting with the Pawlenty adviser. “In my opinion, the Pawlenty people are in an exploratory stage.”
Quinn’s meeting, however, did not go quite as well. He told CNN that Nelson arrived late to their meeting in Columbia, in which Quinn told him that Pawlenty is “the least well known of the presidential hopefuls.”
After what Quinn described as a “brief” but “fine” conversation, Nelson told him he had to leave so he could meet across town with Tompkins - who is essentially Quinn’s arch-nemesis in the small but cutthroat world of Palmetto State politics.
“It’s nice to feel special,” Quinn said wryly.
He has to get purified.
Lordy lordy lordy. Get him to SC to pick up his sheet, hood, and cross-burning kit and instructios!
Party before the People. Party before the People.
Republicans. Makes one wonder if we've landed in Germany about 1938.
Pawlenty: Another deep "pocketed" Republican with the delusion that the American people agree with his twisted philosophy. How is it that any Republican, or any American for that matter, believes that the style of government that got us into this mess in the first place is what's best for the country?
If the collective short term memory of the American people allow these jokers another chance then we deserve to get flushed down the giant gold plated toilet that folks like Pawlenty and Romney use on a daily basis.
He may appeal to the conservatives in S. Carolina and the teabuggers, but he's too conservative to win for most Americans. Look at the mess he's created back home in our state!
Tim Pawlenty has ruined my once great state. I will do everything in my power to see he is not elected president.
He is another loser.
These 'rising stars' of the GOP are a dime a dozen. I know CNN is trying to be the first in predicting the eventual nominee, but just bombarding the airwaves calling every junior GOP governor and senator a 'rising star' always leads to embarrasments. Remember what happened to Jindal's embarrassing national speech? Remember Sanford's disgraceful affair? Mitt Romney's constant flip-flopping on the health care bill? Or just pretty much every revelation about Sarah Palin? They were all called 'rising stars' shortly before they completely embarrassed themselves and their entire party.
Another GOP domestic terrorist making speeches to a brain dead audience.
Pawlenty is not a rising star...more like a sinking ship.
This guy has been nothing but a media seeking cornball. He'll say anything to get power. He obviously has no shame!
Rising star in the Republican party?
Is he the best you morons have?
Nothing personal, but am I the only person see Tim Pawlenty as a weak wishy-washy momma's boy? This guy is a boring dud! He desperately needs to take some testosterone pills.
and the record this "rising star" is running on?
Pawlenty’s leadership has taken the state of Minnesota from having a financial surplus to having a $5 billion dollar deficit.
He attempted to cut social programs serving the poorest citizens-those with mental illness, homeless, the working poor with no insurance.
He proposed corporate and small business tax cuts even as the state struggles to keep services like, state parks, schools.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster! Sounds like 2000-2008!
My family has been travelling to vacation in Charleston since the 1980's. More recently, we have begun to think about where to retire. Sorry, South Carolina, too many knee jerk right wingers for my taste.
As an independent, it is hard to take conservatives seriously.
Phewlenty spreads the phew. This guy is a joke as us Minnesotans will tell you. But then you have to have a ego to think you as so nondescript as you are could ever be president...hopes he gets the nod so they can see how pitiful he is.
As a lifelong Minnesotan, I have been dismayed at the decline in quality of life and state infrastructure that have occurred on Pawlenty's watch. His blind adherance to the "No new taxes" mantra have left key social, public works, and community programs gutted. The school districts are laying off staff and cutting programs even as academic performance scores slip.
If TPaw's performance in Minnesota is any measure of his future performance in a National capacity, expect a decline in all public works such as highways, power grids, etc. as well as a reversion of social concience to near-zero levels.