(CNN) – In what could be considered a build up towards a bid for the White House in 2012, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is announcing the formation of political action committees in Iowa and New Hampshire - the first two states to vote in the presidential primary calendar.
But a Pawlenty spokesman tells CNN Wednesday that setting up these PACs is all about this year's midterm elections, not the next presidential race.
"These state PACs will allow Tim Pawlenty to better help local candidates in this fall's elections," says Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant. "As for what happens after the midterm elections, the Governor's said he'll decide what to do next in early 2011."
Pawlenty's announcement last summer that he would not run this year for a third term as governor was a tip off that he was considering a run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Since then, Pawlenty has been very visible, speaking out against the Obama administration and appearing at a number of major Republican and conservative events. He also became vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association and announced a group of new advisers, several of whom advised Pawlenty's likely 2012 rival - former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney - during his 2008 presidential bid.
Pawlenty also set up Freedom First PAC, a federal political action committee, last October, to help pay for travel across the country. It also allows him to assist and contribute to fellow Republicans on the ballot this year. There's a $5,000 per person donation cap for the federal PAC, but there are no such restrictions on the state political action committees.
The forming of the national PAC last year and the new state political action committees also may help Pawlenty raise his profile. And polls suggest Pawlenty could use some help in that area.
Most national surveys of the 2012 GOP nomination battle place Pawlenty in the single digits. And fifty-three percent of those questioned in an Iowa poll, conducted for the Des Moines Register and released last week, say they don't know enough about him to form a favorable or unfavorable opinion, even though he's governor of neighboring Minnesota. Thirty-two percent in that same poll said they have a favorable view of him.
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