WASHINGTON (AP) — Take note, Mitt Romney.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is burnishing his standing among Republican primary voters who overwhelmingly oppose President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The law is likely to be a central theme in the 2012 presidential race.
Pawlenty, who is not seeking a third term in the governor’s office, hasn’t announced if he will enter the GOP presidential primaries and caucuses. But on Tuesday he ordered state agencies to decline “discretionary” involvement with the federal law “unless otherwise required by law or approved by the governor’s office.” He said his office will determine whether federal funding would support state initiatives or create “new encroachments by the federal government.”
Fast forward to Iowa next year, when Pawlenty may be seeking the White House. He will be able to tell the conservative activists about his executive order that sought to limit the reach of Obama’s signature achievement. And he’ll be able to attack potential rival Romney in the same breath.
Romney, too, opposed the federal health care overhaul. But should Romney make a second run for the White House, his opponents will say Obama’s health bill is merely a national version of the health care overhaul Romney implemented as Massachusetts governor.
Democrats were quick to note the politics, too. The Democratic National Committee released a spoof of the executive order that began, “Whereas, my presidential ambitions are of paramount importance.”
The spoof concludes by saying “all state employees will work for my presidential campaign.”
Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, is backing long-shot Republican Senate hopeful Jim Bender of New Hampshire.
Gilchrist planned to speak at a Wednesday breakfast panel on illegal immigration with Bender, a businessman who has spent more than $1.5 million of his own money on the uphill Republican primary race against former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and entrepreneur Bill Binnie.
Gilchrist and Bender both say the government should secure the border and crack down on companies that hire illegal immigrants.
Bender has attempted to make illegal immigration an issue in the GOP primary and planned the “No Compromise” breakfast. Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project encourages civilians to patrol the U.S.-Mexican border.
The winner of the Sept. 14 GOP primary faces Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes in November.
An elections board in Ohio says former Rep. Jim Traficant, who served time in federal prison, has enough valid signatures to run for a U.S. House seat.
Director Tom McCabe says the Mahoning County board approved more than 30 disputed signatures to allow Traficant to make the November ballot in northeast Ohio’s 17th district. Traficant represented the Youngstown area as a Democrat for nearly two decades before his 2002 conviction for corruption.
He’s now running as an independent, but hundreds of signatures from four counties were disqualified in July.
The secretary of state ordered a review by the board in Youngstown last week. Elections officials in neighboring Trumbull County are expected to officially certify the total Wednesday.