Pawlenty hires leading GOP strategist
April 11th, 2011
10:04 AM ET
12 years ago

Pawlenty hires leading GOP strategist

Washington (CNN) - In what's being seen as a major score for Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor has signed up a leading Republican strategist.

The strategist, former Republican Governors Association Executive Director Nick Ayers, is joining Pawlenty's team as campaign manager for the Minnesota Republican's presidential exploratory committee.

"We are very excited Nick will lead our team. His leadership and record of winning tough races in every part of our country will provide even more momentum to our campaign to get America back on track," Pawlenty said in a statement Monday morning.

Ayers steered the RGA in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, helping the organization break fundraising records. Pawlenty was vice-chairman of the RGA during much of the past cycle. The RGA chairman last cycle, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, is also seriously considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

Prior to his years at the RGA, Ayers was a senior political aide to former Georgia Gov. Sunny Purdue and ran Purdue's successful 2006 re-election campaign. This year, Ayers helped new Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus transition into his new position.

"My decision to join the Pawlenty campaign is in total affirmation of Governor Pawlenty's record as a conservative, two-term governor of a blue state, his character and principles and his vision for this Nation, which is second to no one running for president," Ayers said in a statement.

Word of Ayers' hire was first reported by Fox News. The 28 year-old Ayers, who will move to Minneapolis, Minnesota and take over his new position on April 25, was sought after by a number of Republican presidential campaigns.

"My decision does not mean I think less of Haley Barbour, Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels or Newt Gingrich should they decide to run, because I do not. I know them all personally and believe in their intellect, capabilities, and principles," Ayers added.

While ranking low in national polling of Republican voters, Pawlenty has been very effective in building a strong team of advisers and strategists both based in Minnesota and in some of the crucial early-voting states in the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

The Ayers announcement comes as Pawlenty spends Monday in another important state in the road to the White House, Florida. Pawlenty is holding finance meetings as he builds up his fundraising efforts.

Pawlenty formed a presidential exploratory committee last month and is expected to formally announce his presidential bid in the coming weeks.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: 2012 • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    Nobody can run a smear campaign like the Republicans. They'll lie and "swift boat" their own people. When they get Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers in motion, they'll produce a well orchestrated machine of fear mongering, distortions, and outright lies. These power brokers will lead the assault in the war against the working class, leveraging corporate lobby money to saturate the media with dishonesty and deception. They'll call themselves patriots...

    April 11, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. ConservaFascists/FUBAR

    I don't care who runs T-Paw's committee. It still won't change the fact that he's a dull candidate who left his state with a 8 billion dollar deficit. LOSER!!!

    Obama/Biden 2012

    April 11, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    He's running as if we didn't know that already. He should just announce already.

    April 11, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  4. Me

    Ask Minnesotans what kind of job Pawlenty did in our state and we'll talk about a budget deficit in the billions, unfunded schools, stripped medical programs and tax breaks for Fortune 500 companies.

    April 11, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. A disgusted former Republican

    Let the circus begin!

    April 11, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. Terry - Indiana

    Waste of time. Pawlenty is not a player in the end. He might make the first cut, but this guy is not a first stringer.

    April 11, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  7. Fair is Fair

    Pawlenty has Nick Ayers? So what? Obama has Bill Ayers.

    April 11, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    The little Banjo Boy from Deliverance isn't even a factor in this race!

    April 11, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Marjee123

    This guy could hire the Almighty himself and he will still lose any campaign and sink out of sight.

    April 11, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. Beverly

    This dumb man is not presidential material. I for one am sick of the Republicans searching for an idiot to pick up where Bush left off. The Republicans have done many mean things to ruin the country and yet CNN looks the other way when it comes to McConnell, Cantor, Boehner, and others. If the media decides to report something bad about the Republicans they make sure to say "both parties." There has to be a lot of secret money and power to make the majority of the news media to look the other way while republicans work to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. What ever happen to American the land of the brave and free. The Tombstone Cowboys (Beohner, McConnell, Cantor, etc.) are controlling the entire country.

    April 11, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. Video Guy

    Timmy, call Lassie and go home. This game is for the big boys, and your not ready.

    April 11, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. bill

    Your going to need alot more than that sir. You represent a "Party" that will fail much before 2012! You represent ,Killing the "Baby Boomer" income security,healthcare,and womens healthcare rights,employee rights,keep the poor,Poor. I haven,t the space to spell out your destructive plans sir! No Vote Here!!!!

    April 11, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |