DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican Tim Pawlenty offered a sneak peak Sunday at his presidential kickoff, blasting out an Internet video in which he promises a campaign that "tells the American people the truth" and suggests that President Barack Obama doesn't.
In the new video, the former Minnesota governor formally declares he's running for president, something aides said he'd do in person Monday morning during a town hall forum in Iowa. Pawlenty bypassed a launch in his home state to make his inaugural appearance as a candidate in the state that holds the leadoff caucuses, which he acknowledges he must fare well in to preserve his hopes of the Republican nomination.
He says in the video that the country needs a president who will be frank with Americans about the severe challenges facing the country and how America can get back on track. He mentions the climbing federal debt and a slow recovery from the economic recession that's left millions jobless.
"We're going to have to do more than just give fancy speeches; we've had three years of that and it's not working," Pawlenty says. "Join me tomorrow and around the country in the days and weeks ahead. You won't hear empty promises, you'll hear solutions."
The hard swipes at Obama are central to Pawlenty's effort to prove to Republican primary voters that he's tough enough to take on the Democrat. He's combatting an impression that he's too nice to be an aggressive challenger.
Pawlenty makes no mention of prospective Republican rivals he'll have to outlast to get his shot at Obama. Among the Republicans who have taken formal steps toward a White House campaign are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
The Republican field saw more signs of settling Sunday when Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels took his name out of consideration.
The video released Sunday by Pawlenty is set to soft music that rises to a crescendo — a contrast from the all-out, pulse-raising videos he released as he introduced himself to Republican voters over the last several months. The former two-term governor brags that he "moved our Democratic state in a conservative direction."
"We need a president who understands that our problems are deep and who has the courage to face them," Pawlenty says in the spot. "President Obama doesn't, and I do."
Democrats planned to counter Pawlenty's town hall meeting Monday by bringing in Minnesota officials who say he handed off deep budget problems to his successor.
The Democratic National Committee didn't let Sunday's video go unanswered.
"After running for president for over two years, the question isn't whether Tim Pawlenty is running or not. It's why — a question he has yet to find an answer to," said DNC press secretary Hari Sevugan.
He added that Minnesota residents are coping with reduced services and ongoing deficits: "They're scratching their heads, too."