Pawlenty vs. Romney – A Preview?

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, has announced he will join a growing number of states challenging the legality of the health reform law.

This further distinguishes Pawlenty from another top contender for the nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Romney, you may remember, launched state-based reforms in Massachusetts that are very similar to the Democrats’ federal health reform plan. Info on Romney’s probably futile attempts to distance himself from this fact here and here.)

Pawlenty’s move was not unexpected given that Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, a Democrat, declined to join the suit despite the governor’s urging. But Pawlenty also publicly twice rejected the idea of instituting an individual mandate for insurance in his state, while this is a major tenet of Romneycare. Although 2012 feels far away, with the 2010 congressional elections bearing down on us, Pawlenty appears to have already laid some crucial groundwork. Of course, that’s only helpful if health care is a top issue in the 2012 GOP primaries.