(CNN) – Tim Pawlenty's making it official, and the location where he's doing it is no surprise.
A source close to the former Minnesota governor tells CNN that Pawlenty will formally announce his candidacy for president Monday morning in neighboring Iowa. The Hawkeye State's caucuses kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar and a strong finish in Iowa is crucial for Pawlenty's hopes of winning the Republican presidential nomination.
Pawlenty's announcement at an event in Des Moines will kick off a multi-state campaign swing that also includes Florida, New Hampshire, New York and Washington D.C.
The formal declaration of candidacy has been expected. Pawlenty was the first of what are considered the major GOP White House contenders to form a presidential exploratory committee, filing with the Federal Election Commission on March 21.
A highly produced video posted on Pawlenty's Facebook page that contained images of himself as well as patriotic symbols accompanied his set up of the exploratory committee. In his launch video, Pawlenty pointed to his working class roots, saying he had seen the effect of job loss personally during his youth. He also referenced some of the economic hardships his state and others have faced more recently.
"Over the last year I have traveled to nearly every state in the country almost every state, and I know many Americans are feeling that way today. I know that feeling. I've lived it, but there is a brighter future for America," he said in the video.
He pledged to grow jobs, limit government spending and tackle entitlements.
Pawlenty appeared to be the main attraction at the first GOP presidential debate, which was held in Greenville, South Carolina on May 5. Pawlenty was considered by many Republican party insiders and by many political pundits as the only top tier candidate among the five who appeared at the debate, which was sponsored by Fox News and the South Carolina GOP.
The debate took place four days after President Barack Obama announced that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden. While Pawlenty congratulated Obama for making the "tough call" and being decisive" in ordering the raid to kill the man responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he also was critical of the president on other foreign policy flashpoints.
"I tip my cap to him in that moment. But that moment is not the sum total of America's foreign policy. He's made a number of other decisions relating to our security here and around the world that I don't agree with," said Pawlenty.
The former Minnesota governor has some advantages as he runs for the White House. He appears easygoing to many voters, and apparently has scandal-free past. He's an evangelical Christian who opposes abortion rights and same sex marriages, positions which may help him among social conservative voters, who are very influential in the Republican primaries, especially in Iowa and South Carolina, which is the first southern state to vote in the primary and caucus calendar.
But he does have his challenges. First among them is that he's relatively unknown outside his home state. Pawlenty polls in the low single digits in just about every national 2012 GOP horserace survey. Many Republican handicappers also say Pawlenty is not especially charismatic, possible due to too much of that so-called "Minnesota nice."
Pawlenty's announcement in the summer of 2009 that he would not run the following year for a third term as governor was a tip off that he was considering a run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Pawlenty soon became 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.
In October of 2009, Pawlenty also set up Freedom First PAC, a federal political action committee, to help pay for travel across the country. It also allowed him to assist and contribute to fellow Republicans on the ballot in the 2010 midterm elections.
Thanks to his formation of the PAC and his role at the RGA, Pawlenty criss-crossed the country during last year's campaign in support of fellow Republican lawmakers and candidates running in the midterms, helping to raise his profile and building relationships that could come in handy during a bid for the presidential nomination.
Pawlenty touts himself as a fiscal conservative who stood up to Minnesota's state's unions and special interests. In the early years of his tenure the state had budget surpluses. With the effects of the recession still being felt, he left office earlier this year with a $6 billion deficit and higher unemployment than when he became governor.
"Unfortunately for the people of Minnesota, while Governor Pawlenty was out exploring states near and far, he failed those he was supposed to represent. Tim Pawlenty left our state facing the largest deficit in Minnesota's 152-year history, drove up property taxes and fees on middle-class families and small businesses alike, all while making draconian cuts to education that forced some schools into 4-day weeks," Minnesota Democratic Party Chairman Ken Martin said in a statement earlier this year.
In January of this year, just days after leaving office in Minnesota, Pawlenty kicked off a national book tour for "Courage to Stand," which chronicled his personal and political life, and his stance on the issues. It was no surprise that the book tour included stops in Iowa and New Hampshire, which votes second in the primary and caucus season.
The following month, Pawlenty appeared to make a pitch for influential tea party activists, as he called for holding the line on government spending and taxes as he headlined an inaugural policy summit being put on in Phoenix, Arizona by the Tea Party Patriots, one of the nation's largest national tea party groups.
While Pawlenty's early campaign efforts have been largely confined to Iowa and New Hampshire, he's started expanding his operation into South Carolina, which for a generation has had a can't-miss record of picking the Republican presidential nominee. Earlier this week CNN learned that Pawlenty hired Kurt Pickhardt, who until last week was the Operations Director for the South Carolina Republican Party, to serve as his political director in the state.
Wednesday night Pawlenty was the main attraction at a large fundraiser in Minneapolis. Friday he finishes up a two day financial swing through California. Unlike some of his rivals for the nomination, Pawlenty is raising money for both the primaries and the general election.
"We are raising it because we believe we'll be the nominee and want to be ready for the Democrats," says Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant.
While perfectly legal, raising general election funds helps boost the overall fundraising figures for a candidate. For this election cycle, the Federal Election Commission is allowing individuals to contribute $2,500 to a candidate for the primaries, with another $2,500 to the same candidate for the general election.