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Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee Monday, a source close to Pawlenty said.

The 3 p.m. announcement will be exclusive to supporters on Facebook. To access the message, supporters must “like” Pawlenty’s Facebook page.

The move pushes the expected 2012 candidate one step closer to officially running for president. He has already begun hiring staff in early primary states — including Eric Woolson in Iowa two weeks ago — and is coming off a nationwide book tour that took him to Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida.

Last month, Pawlenty held a luncheon and political briefing in Washington, D.C., for supporters. Minnesota GOP Reps. Erik Paulsen and John Kline have been assisting Pawlenty with Hill outreach as he actively woos Members of Congress.

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