Add a new member to Team McCain, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
According to an article by Jonathan Martin in National Review, Pawlenty used the Republican Governor's Association meetings to announce his support for McCain:
Sources tell National Review Online that Pawlenty, who just narrowly won reelection, will support McCain’s bid and is actively engaged in what is now the senator’s exploratory committee. Additionally, Lincoln Diaz-Balart said that both he and his brother will support McCain, and that they’ll be joined by the third Cuban-American member of Congress from this area (Florida), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In separate interviews, Daniels, Douglas, and Crist all had warm words for McCain, but stopped short of declaring their allegiance.On the Romney front, it appears that Mitt will pick up the endorsement of Missouri Governor Matt Blunt.
The first-term governor said in an interview today that he would make a public endorsement “probably in the next few days.” Asked for which candidate, Blunt replied that he had “a great deal of admiration for Gov. Romney.” Blunt, the son of House Republican Whip Roy Blunt, said he wants “to elect a conservative candidate” and Romney is “the most conservative of those” in the field who are “credible.” Asked if McCain was also a conservative candidate, Blunt chose to talk about Romney.Overall, these are big pickups for both candidates. Pawlenty, before the last election, was considered a rising star. Even after his lackluster re-election results, he still lends much credibility to the McCain campaign, and could almost be penciled in as a potential running mate. Getting a firm foothold on the Cuban community in Florida will be very helpful to him as well for the eventual primary there.
For Romney, any establishment support in a Southern state will certainly help with his perceived problem with Evangelicals. The connection by association to Roy Blunt doesn't hurt either