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Pawlenty: 'warming up the engine' for likely gubernatorial run

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Tim Pawlenty speaks to a crowd about technology and innovation
Former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty speaks to a crowd about technology and innovation inside of the Edina Country Club in Edina, Minn. on Friday, March 16, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Friday he will have an announcement "shortly" on whether he'll run for his old job.

The two-term Republican spoke about technology and the changing workforce at an event with southwest metro chambers of commerce at the Edina Country Club. 

After his speech, he said an upcoming fundraising stop in Florida is "warming up the engine" for a possible run. 

"We have a lot of Minnesotans who spend some time elsewhere, so we're also open to getting support from those Minnesotans if they happen to be in other places," said Pawlenty. "It just happened to be that was the first thing that leaked into the press but it could have easily been all the other stuff we're doing in Minnesota."

 Tim Pawlenty laughs with reporters after giving a speech
Former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty laughs with reporters after giving a speech inside of Edina Country Club in Edina, Minn. on Friday, March 16, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Democratic groups including Alliance for a Better Minnesota and the Democratic Governors Association are already treating Pawlenty as the Republican front-runner, with attack ads and frequent critiques. Even some declared GOP candidates are already treating him as a rival. 

Pawlenty's speech to the business crowd highlighted technological advancements that he said will improve productivity and quality of life, from 3D printing to drones delivering medical products. 

Sounding like a candidate, he said Minnesota needs to make sure it gets its share of the new jobs created, and retrains workers displaced by new technology. He pointed out that autonomous cars will mean fewer jobs for taxi and truck drivers, reminding the crowd that his dad was a truck driver. 

Pawlenty left his Washington, D.C., job lobbying for financial service companies this week. He was also asked about his thoughts on Republican President Trump.

"I agree with much of what President Trump is trying to do," said Pawlenty. "If you look at the need for tax reform, getting the economy moving, following the law on immigration and much more. It's just sometimes the way he says things and his behavior is concerning."