As Republicans enter the race for president, the slow trickle of endorsements of their candidacies has begun.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) each tallied another backer on Monday as both Republicans move toward running for president.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), the chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, formally backed Pawlenty, who on Monday took the first step toward running by forming an exploratory committee.

"As an experienced, articulate office holder, Tim has what it takes to generate the enthusiasm and garner the support necessary to get our country back on the right track," Kline said.

And former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) said he'd be backing Gingrich, who's said he's exploring running, but hasn't officially filed the paperwork to form an exploratory committee.

Home state support is a key early test for the Republican candidates; if they can't win endorsements in their own state, it might be difficult to win more prized backers.

Pawlenty's banking on support from Kline, and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) has spoken favorably of the former governor. Gingrich, meanwhile, is hoping to lock up support from Republicans in Georgia.

Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, the state's only Republican in the congressional delegation, has said he's inclined to support the state's former governor, Mitt Romney (R).

But those candidates will have to build support beyond their home states if they hope to secure the nomination. Endorsements from Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — the three states that host the first nominating contests — will be particularly valuable.

The Republicans have sought to curry favor by meeting with lawmakers and dispatching donations to incumbents. Romney donated $93,000 to GOP lawmakers earlier this month.