Pawlenty to court Tea Party at Arizona summit

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) will be the featured speaker at a Tea Party summit in Arizona next weekend. 

The likely 2012 GOP presidential hopeful is headlining an event hosted by the group Tea Party Patriots, one of the nation's leading Tea Party groups. Titled the American Policy Summit, the gathering will take place Feb. 25-27 in Phoenix and will celebrate the second anniversary of the founding of the Tea Party movement, according to organizers. 

As he continues to edge closer to a presidential run, Pawlenty has been courting Tea Party supporters. In his speech to last week's Conservative Political Action Conference, he highlighted the movement's role in pushing for deeper spending cuts to reduce the deficit. 

Pawlenty also drew a line in the sand on the debt ceiling, arguing that congressional Republicans shouldn't vote to raise it.  

At least two other potential 2012 hopefuls are set to speak at the event — Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and conservative talk show host Herman Cain. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is also on the guest list. 

"Tea Party Patriots values won the day in November, and we are now taking steps to make sure that these values are reflected in public policy," said the group's national coordinator, Mark Meckler. 

Tea Party Patriots bills itself as a national grassroots coalition with more than 15 million members nationwide. 

On its website, Tea Party Patriots is promoting the summit with the words of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who says it "offers a terrific opportunity for true American patriots to hear from experts on issues like lowering taxes, balancing the budget and repealing ObamaCare." 

Palin will not be among the speakers.

— Updated at 9 a.m.

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