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Pawlenty places third in Values Voter Summit presidential straw poll

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Pawlenty's nonstop speaking tours and TV appearances seem to be paying off. He's finally upping Sarah Palin in presidential straw polls!

A weekend conference of social conservatives conducted a straw poll of potential Republican presidential candidates and our very own Gov. Tim Pawlenty is looking surprisingly strong among the heavy hitters. Coming from a relatively unknown position during the 2008 election cycle when some suspected he could be Sen. John McCain's running mate, Pawlenty is making a name for himself and has plenty of time to make some progress in his obvious campaigning for president in 2012.

Pawlenty placed third in the presidential straw poll at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 presidential candidate, took a strong first with 28 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney only received one more vote than Pawlenty, narrowly beating him for second place.

Pawlenty spoke to a welcoming crowd Friday at the summit, where he ripped on Obama and strengthened his position as a serious social conservative.

More from the Star Tribune:

"As you know, you're gathered here because you share a belief in values," Pawlenty said. "Those values are under attack. These are not just conservative values; our values are American values."

Pawlenty listed some examples, beginning by saying that "at every turn, at every gathering, we should start first things first by thanking and acknowledging God. ... This is not politically incorrect, it's not politically sensitive, this is what our nation was founded on."

"Here's my message [to Obama]: Stop spending the country into bankruptcy. Stop taxing us into oblivion. And the next time you address a group of young people, maybe you should apologize for the crushing debt you are putting on their shoulders."

Read his full speech here.