(CNN) - Potential Republican presidential candidates are throwing their support behind Wisconsin's governor, angling to use the union standoff in that state to demonstrate their own conservative credentials.
On Thursday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's political action committee sent a $5,000 donation to Wisconsin Republicans, while Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty released a web video praising Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's "tough choices."
Romney, in a statement, said, "Liberal big government interests are fighting efforts to rein in out-of-control public employee pay and benefits in Wisconsin." The group's donation is the maximum amount that a political action committee is permitted to donate to a political party.
Pawlenty's political committee launched a website praising Scott, http://www.standingwithscott.com. The site features a video that splices together news clips of the protests, along with commentary criticizing the role that Organizing for America–President Barack Obama's campaign arm–played in the Wisconsin protests.
In a statement on his website, Pawlenty backs the governor:
"Governor Scott Walker is making tough choices needed to avoid financial ruin," he said. "The nation's governors don't need a lecture from a president who has never balanced a budget. All levels of government need to bring public employee compensation in line with the private sector."
Other potential 2012 candidates are also weighing in.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour tweeted Thursday that Walker "is showing the leadership it takes to turn our country around. He's standing with taxpayers & keeping his word."
Meanwhile, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum compared pro-union protestors in Wisconsin to drug addicts.
"They are acting like their drug is being taken away from them," Santorum told gathering of Republicans Tuesday night in South Carolina, according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
In a video posted to his YouTube page, businessman Donald Trump tried to appeal to both union workers and those supporting the governor.
"I've had great relationships with the unions over the years," he said. "But at the same time I fully understand the governor of Wisconsin, what he's trying to do. He's trying to fix a very, very serious problem."
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, in a post on her Facebook page, appealed to union workers to stand up to union bosses.
"Hard working, patriotic, and selfless union brothers and sisters: please don't be taken in by the union bosses," she wrote. "At the end of the day, they're not fighting for your pension or health care plan or even for the sustainability of Wisconsin's education budget. They're fighting to protect their own powerful privileges and their own political clout."