Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has formally announced his interest in the the 2012 presidential race.
The Republican told supporters Monday he will form an exploratory committee to raise money for the possible run.
The committee clears the way for Pawlenty to raise funds and hire campaign staff. He'll also be required to file formal paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.
In recent weeks, Pawlenty traveled to early primary states in an effort to appeal to fiscal conservatives and Tea Party members. He's openly opposed both abortion and gay rights.
Still, Pawlenty is fairly unknown. A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted earlier this month found about 60 percent of voters had no opinion of Pawlenty.