Pawlenty attracting staff from presidential rivals

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Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) may not register high in the polls yet, but his credible resume and long preparation for a presidential run has helped attract a highly experienced staff, several of whom have defected from 2008 contenders who are expected to run again in 2012.

At the top of the pyramid is Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman and top advisor to former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) in the last presidential election. Weber has been taking digs at his old boss in the press lately, telling reporters that Romney’s healthcare record in Massachusetts will be tough to overcome. Weber co-chairs Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC with William Strong, a Morgan Stanley banker who chaired Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign in Illinois.

Weber isn’t the only Romney veteran who has changed sides. Phil Musser was executive director of the Republican Governors Association under then-Gov. Romney’s leadership then went on to advise Romney’s 2008 campaign. Now Musser is a senior advisor to Pawlenty’s PAC. The pattern may not be a coincidence — Politico reported in 2009 that Pawlenty was cold-calling Romney-connected consultants to casually solicit their advice.

Full story: Tim Pawlenty’s Team Includes Major Defectors From Rivals – Talking Points Memo