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Pawlenty will not seek re-election

From NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro

A source close to Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty confirms to First Read that Pawlenty will announce today that he will not be running for a third term in 2010.

This announcement, of course, will raise speculation about whether Pawlenty plans to spend the next three years preparing for a presidential bid in 2012.

The announcement will come at a 3:00 pm ET news conference at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn.

Pawlenty gave a firebrand speech at the Republican Governor's Association meeting in Miami, a week after the party's sound November election losses. He gave some tough medicine to the party, saying, "It needs to get younger, more diverse and build a broader coalition," we wrote at the time.

"If we're going to successfully travel the road, as a Republican," he said at the time, "we need to see clearly, and be honest about where we've been and where we're headed. … If we're going to be the majority, we're going to have to see we need to grow the party. We cannot compete in the Northeast, the West; we're losing seats in the Great Lakes region. We have a large deficit with women, Hispanics, African Americans -- people with modest financial circumstances. That is not a formula for a majority."

In the halls at the meeting, Pawlenty was lukewarm toward another potential 2012 GOP candidate, Sarah Palin. In fact, during his speech "he delivered a line that might sound like an opening 2012 shot at Palin," we wrote then.

"'Drill baby, drill' by itself is not an energy policy," he said. "It's not enough. We're going to need wind and solar and bio mass."

Pawlenty is young. He will only be 49 in November. That's plenty of time to run both in 2012 and 2016.

Republicans, more than Democrats, like their runners up. Four of the last five Republicans, who eventually won their party's nomination -- Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole and John McCain -- also ran for president and lost in primary races in earlier years.