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Associated Press, Published March 21 2011

UPDATED: Pawlenty announces White House committee in web video

ST. PAUL — Republican Tim Pawlenty has taken the first formal step toward a presidential bid, launching an exploratory committee and telling backers it's time to "take back our government."

In a video message that appealed to tea party-style activists and establishment Republicans alike, Pawlenty on Monday announced that he had formed the committee for a White House campaign. The move almost certainly will lead to a full-blown candidacy for the GOP nomination.

Pawlenty's Hollywood-style video, posted on Facebook, played up his Midwest roots and the challenges facing the country. He says he knows the pain facing Americans in this tough economy.

Earlier in the day, he had told allies he planned to set up a presidential campaign, based in Minnesota.