(CNN) – Former Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told CNN's Piers Morgan Tuesday he's in the race.
"I'm running for president," Pawlenty said in an interview set to air Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on "Piers Morgan Tonight." "I'm not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for vice president. I'm focused on running for president."
But Pawlenty's campaign said the comments were not an official announcement.
"As the governor has said many times, he is not running to be anybody's vice president," Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant told CNN. "He will have a formal announcement about running for president later this spring."
Pawlenty announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee last month.
Washington (CNN) – Republican Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee Monday afternoon with a video on his website.
“I'm Mitt Romney. This morning I spoke with a number of students here at the University of New Hampshire. Like young people all over the country, they wonder whether they'll find good jobs when they graduate. Last week in Nevada I walked through a neighborhood with homes vacant or in foreclosure. Unemployment there is over 13%. Across the nation over 20 million Americans still can’t find a job or have given up looking. How has this happened in the nation that leads the world in innovation and productivity? The answer is that President Obama's policies have failed. He and virtually all the people around him have never worked in the real economy. They just don’t know how jobs are created in the private sector. That's where I spent my entire career. In 1985 I helped found a company. At first we had 10 employees, today there are hundreds. My work led me to become deeply involved in helping other businesses form innovative startups to large companies going through tough times. Sometimes I was successful and helped create jobs. Other times I wasn’t. I learned how America competes with companies in other countries. Why jobs leave, and how jobs are created here at home. Later when I served as Governor of Massachusetts, I used the skills I had learned in 25 years in business to streamline state government, balance the budget every year, and restore a 2 billion dollar rainy day fund. From my vantage point in business and in government I've become convinced that America has been put in a dangerous course by Washington politicians and it has become even worse during the last two years. But I’m also convinced that with able leadership America’s best days are still ahead. That’s why today I am announcing my exploratory committee for the Presidency of the United States. It’s time that we put America back on a course of greatness with a growing economy, good jobs and fiscal discipline to Washington. I believe in America. I believe in the freedom and opportunity and the principles of our Constitution that have led us to become the greatest nation in the history of the earth and I believe that these principles will confirm America’s future as well. This effort isn’t about a person. It’s about the cause of American freedom and greatness. I'd like to ask you to join with us. Volunteer, donate or just pass this message along to a friend. Thanks so much.”
(CNN) – Several Republican senators have announced their intent to retire rather than run for re-election in 2012, but Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar is gearing up for his campaign "with boots on the ground."
In an interview with CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King, on "John King, USA," Lugar said of the race, "Oh I'm in til the end."
"I'm enthusiastic about a great campaign that our supporters they're waging, much more prematurely than perhaps we would have anticipated, but with fundraisers every week, with boots on the ground literally in Indiana who are out working the precincts," Lugar said.
Lugar, the most senior Republican member of the Senate, is seeking a seventh term in office. He has been criticized, particularly by Tea Party activists, for his willingness to work across party lines and for voting in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in 2008. Lugar is also among several senators up for re-election in 2012 who are being targeted by the Tea Party Express.
There will be at least one challenger to Lugar in the May 8, 2012 GOP primary–last month, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock announced his bid for the seat currently occupied by Lugar.
(CNN) – Hours after his contributor arrangement was suspended by Fox News Channel, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will appear live on CNN's "John King, USA." The show airs at 7 p.m. ET.
Santorum, who is considered a likely candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, was a contributor for Fox since 2007. Tonight's interview on CNN will be his first television appearance since his contract was suspended.
Fox News suspended Santorum's contract earlier today, and will terminate his contract on May 1 if Santorum chooses to make a bid for the presidential nomination.
(CNN) – As the 2012 primary season begins to take shape, political observers are beginning to wonder whether the four potential candidates who work as commentators for Fox News will forgo their large paychecks to run for the nomination.
On Monday's edition of John King, USA, Chief National Correspondent John King laid out the stakes: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum all serve as contributors for the network. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also hosts a weekend show there.
Gingrich has acted as a contributor on Fox since 1999, while Santorum joined the network in 2007. Palin began contributing to Fox in 2010, and Huckabee has been on the air since 2008.
All four would be likely be required to step down at Fox if they ran for the presidential nomination pursuant to Federal Election Commission regulations, which would mean giving up salaries (some of which may top the $1 million-dollar mark) and an established platform to reach a large audience of Americans.
For some of the candidates, like Huckabee, the Fox salary constitutes a large bulk of their income. Others, like Sarah Palin, rely additionally on paid speaking appearances.
CNN Political Contributor Cornell Belcher, also a Democratic consultant, said the platform the Fox News' jobs provide helps the Republican candidates establish themselves before a supportive audience.
"I've got to tell you, Fox is more supportive of Republican candidates than the Republican National Committee," Belcher said. "They're bankrolling this."
Earlier this month, Huckabee defended the Fox News arrangement in an interview with CNN.
"The one thing about Fox that people miss is that there really is this big wall between the news guys and the program guys," Huckabee told King. "I mean I'm on the program side, I don't pretend to be objective. I'm not. But I would say our news guys, they're objective."
Washington (CNN)– CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King caught up with Rahm Emanuel Tuesday in Chicago as the former top Obama aide did some last minute campaigning for mayor.
Emanuel – who is poised for victory in the mayoral election Tuesday – said he disagreed with the way Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is handling that states' budget crisis:
"The Wisconsin model I totally reject. It's not about a cooperative, coming to a resolution together with an understanding and respect. That's not about fiscal issues, it's about politics, and here we're gonna deal with our fiscal issues by being honest with each other, straight forward and on a level of respect to work out the agreements that are necessary to put our fiscal house in order so our economy can grow. That's the goal here. What Wisconsin's doing is Wisconsin and it's not what we want to do in Chicago because there's no respect, no sense of cooperation, no sense that we all have a vested interest in working something out."
"Here in Chicago we have a vested interest of working together, finding agreement together, put our fiscal house in order, get our schools strong, get our street safe, so we can make sure that our residents here – it is a city that a middle class family can send their kids to school and feel safe on the street," Emanuel also said.
Washington (CNN) – Democratic California Congresswoman Jane Harman said Tuesday the cost of a special election, forced by her resignation from Congress, will likely be "minimal." But despite her call to fill her seat as "quickly as possible," her abrupt resignation will likely result in her constituents being unrepresented for months.
Harman announced she would resign her seat in Congress in order to accept an appointment as the head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center beginning on February 28 at a news conference on Tuesday. She was sworn in to her ninth term representing the 37th district of California last month.
In an interview on CNN's "John King, USA," at 7 p.m. E.T. Tuesday, Harman revealed the possibility that the special election to fill her seat may be folded into a ballot already planned for this summer, leaving the seat unfilled for a minimum of several months. When Rep. Hilda Solis was nominated by President Obama to become labor secretary in 2009, a special election held to fill her seat cost about $1.5 million, according to the Los Angeles Country registrar.
Harman told Chief National Correspondent John King that California Gov. Jerry Brown has "some real latitude" to plan the special election and acknowledged the severe budget woes faced by the state.
"He is planning, so I understand, to hold a special election this summer on extending some tax provisions for the state, which is in dire straits, and this election could be part of that ballot. That would save a lot of money…if there is an outright winner in the race that is on the same ballot as Governor Brown's tax issue then the race is over," she said.
Expressing hopes that the process will be as quick and painless as possible, Harman continued, " The seat will be filled, and I think the cost to taxpayers will be minimal. I hope that is what happens, I think the seat needs to be filled as quickly as possible."
Harman won re-election last fall after what she called a "a very big victory." In the interview, Harman said her 36th district residents were not far from her mind when weighing the decision to join the Woodrow Wilson Center.
"I hesitated quite a bit because of my commitment to my constituents, to my excellent staff and to my colleagues here. But I ultimately decided that after 17 years in Congress, and these years are like dog years…having done my best both in majority and minority circumstances, that a new challenge is something I couldn't refuse," she said.
Washington (CNN) – Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham predicted President Barack Obama is beatable in the 2012 presidential election, but only if the Republican nominee wins over independent voters.
"Conservatism sells, it's a center right nation but the nominee for the party is going to have to win the independent voter at the end of the day," Graham said Monday in an interview set to air at 7 p.m. ET on CNN's "John King, USA."
Graham said Republicans have a chance to take back the White House because Democrats "sort of blew it."
"We got a chance now to reengage with the American people," Graham told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "The health care debate I think will define 2012."
(CNN) – Former Florida Republican Governor, Jeb Bush said Friday he isn't running for president, but would support Sarah Palin if she were to run.
In an interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King Friday, Bush – whose brother and father are former presidents – said he'd support former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin if she were the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.
"You betcha," Bush said in an interview set to air on CNN's John King, USA at 7 p.m. ET Friday.
And what kind of Republican does he think would make a good 2012 candidate?
"Big and bold and aspirational that has a positive agenda that will compare, I think favorably to that of the president," Bush said. "We can't just be against the president's proposals, we have to offer up compelling alternatives."
He also weighed in on the current race for governor in Florida, saying there has been a lot of "throwing mud back and forth," but not enough talk about specific issues.
"The election, up until now, has been… a lot of negative things and not trying to lift our spirits as a state," Bush said. "There's a cloud over Florida right now, as it is over the country so being specific about what you want to do, I think will be a good thing."
John King will moderate the Florida gubernatorial debate Monday night at 7 p.m. ET.
(CNN) – Republican candidate for Senate in Alaska, Joe Miller, admitted he was disciplined for the misuse of local government computers but said it was not a factor in his eventual departure from his job as an attorney at the Fairbanks North Star Borough (an area of Alaska) in September 2009.
The former mayor of Fairbanks said last week that Miller left his post because the borough planned to fire him over using borough computers for election business while attempting to become the head of the Alaska Republican Party. On Monday Miller responded.
"The event in question is something that happened during my time off," Miller told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "So it was during my lunch hour."
Miller, in an interview taped for CNN's John King, USA that airs at 7 p.m. ET, said his departure from the borough had nothing to do with the event that happened nearly two years before.
King asked him to clarify his remarks:
"Is this a fair statement, in your view that at the time this happened, you were disciplined for something, but it had nothing to do with why… you left the agency down the road?"
Miller responded, "Absolutely."