(CNN) – Tim Pawlenty is set to announce he's running for president on Monday, but does he need a better answer as to why?
The former Minnesota governor is taking heat from Iowa Democrats after what appeared to some as a bungled answer to our sister publication Time Magazine when asked when he decided he was "up to the grand challenge of the presidency."
Pawlenty responded by noting he had set up a political action committee two years ago. But pressed further on when and how he came to the realization he had what it takes to carry the burdens of the presidency, the former governor said, "I don't know, I wish I had a good answer for you on that."
Pawlenty, who's 50 years-old, added he felt a responsibility upon leaving the governor's office at a young age not to merely "go make some money and play hockey and drink beer."
That answer doesn't pass muster for the Iowa Democratic Party:
"Tim Pawlenty is ready to 'endure the national stage's harsh tool' because, eh, why not," Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said.
Pawlenty is set to make his formal presidential announcement in Iowa on Monday.
UPDATE: Michael Crowley, the Time reporter, tweeted that Democrats are taking the excerpt out of context:
@crowleytime DNC hit on TPaw distorts what he said to me about running: "I don't know" referred to when he first saw self as a prez–not WHY he's running
Here's the full exchange as recounted by Time:
And when I ask Pawlenty, during a second interview in Des Moines, Iowa, exactly when he decided he was up to the grand challenge of the presidency, he answers in less than grandiose terms, explaining how he'd set up a political-action committee in 2009. I try again, saying I am curious about when he first imagined himself worthy of the history books, ready to send soldiers to their deaths and endure the national stage's harsh toll. "I don't know," he replies. "I wish I had a good answer for you on that." Pawlenty says it is not an idea that crossed his mind 15 or 20 years ago but that as he considered life as a relatively young ex-governor, he felt obliged not to take the easy path and "go make some money and play hockey and drink beer." He adds that he almost didn't run at all. "Mary and I talked about this at length, and many times, and it was a close call," he says, mentioning his wife of 24 years. He adds with a laugh, "It could have gone the other way for all the reasons you're suggesting."