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T-Paw takes aim at health-care law

From NBC's Mark Murray
Minnesota Gov. -- and potential presidential candidate -- Tim Pawlenty (R) today signed an executive order prohibiting his state from requesting new grants tied to the new health-care law. The AP adds, "The governor said he won't pull grant applications that have already been submitted or turn down federal cash in categories that fit with the direction that Minnesota has taken in health care policy."

Pawlenty is leaving office at the end of the year, and his successor -- either Democrat Mark Dayton or Republican Tom Emmer -- could overturn the executive order. (Dayton would most likely overturn it, while Emmer wouldn't.)

Democrats have blasted Pawlenty's executive order as a political move that's tied to his presidential ambitions. “After rejecting $7.8 billion dollars for his cash-strapped state where taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet and denying health care to a quarter million of his fellow Minnesotans, Tim Pawlenty’s executive order to state employees might as well have read ‘You will henceforth work for my presidential ambitions instead of the people of Minnesota,'" said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan.

A Pawlenty adviser responded that the executive order is consistent with the governor's free-market principles.

Nevertheless, you can bet that Pawlenty -- if he does run for president -- will want 2011 to be about health care, in order to draw the comparison's between the health-care law and what likely GOP front-runner Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts.

Interestingly, DNC chairman Tim Kaine is holding a previously planned press conference in Minnesota tomorrow with Dayton, where you can bet the executive order is addressed.