Pawlenty beefs up Iowa team, makes first SC hire

Likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty added two top members to his growing campaign team over the past two days in preparation for making his run official. 

On Monday, Pawlenty's exploratory committee hired former South Carolina GOP staffer Kurt Pickhardt to serve as his political director in the Palmetto State, which holds a key early pirmary. 

And on Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker was named to lead Pawlenty's Iowa steering committee.

Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, has traveled around the country looking to raise money and build support for his presidential campaign-to-be. 

Late last week, Pawlenty traveled to Iowa, where he is working to make a big splash in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, to meet with potential voters. He returns to his home state of Minnesota on Wednesday to hold a large fundraising event after meeting big GOP donors in various cities over the past few months. 

Pawlenty has already hired a full staff in Iowa in addition to naming Whitaker to run his volunteer steering committee. The former governor also has a steering committee formed in New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state.

Pawlenty has not made as many inroads in South Carolina, but is looking to boost his presence there: His national pollster Jon Lerner has worked for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

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