Pawlenty courts Florida, stays out of primary dispute

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) appears to be well-positioned in Florida, a possible early primary state.

Pawlenty was in Tallahassee on Wednesday for a speech at the state capitol. He told reporters there he would decide in the next six weeks about whether to run for president. If he does decide to get in, he's already made some solid connections in Florida's fundraising community.

The St. Petersburg Times reports:

Pawlenty's political committee, Freedom First, has raised $3.4 million, much of which has been spent. Pawlenty donated to more than 80 Republican candidates for Congress last year, including Florida U.S. Reps. Sandy Adams, David Rivera and Allen West.

Pawlenty collected about $95,000 in Florida, including donations from Joe Fogg of Naples, a top fundraiser for former presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani; Hoe Brown of Tampa, a GOP fundraiser and Mitt Romney supporter in 2008; and Christopher Ruddy of West Palm Beach, the CEO of Newsmax.com.

Pawlenty was guided around the Capitol by Phil Musser, a senior adviser with ties to former Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla. Musser also worked on Romney's 2008 presidential campaign.

Pawlenty wouldn't weigh in on the conflict over Florida's presidential primary, which is scheduled for January 2012, much to the chagrin of national party officials who want it pushed back.

"I don't purport to give other states advice on how they run their elections or their primaries. That's up to them," he said.