Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota formally opened his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.  One day after Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana said he would not join the Republican race, Gov. Pawlenty used his announcement as an opportunity to seize the spotlight in a Republican presidential campaign that is among the most wide open in decades. He sought to persuade donors and party leaders, who had been urging Mr. Daniels to run, to join his effort to win the nomination.

Gov. Pawlenty selected Iowa to announce his candidacy, which he has been exploring for more than a year in frequent visits to the state that opens the Republican nominating contest. Iowa is critical to his strategy for winning the nomination, advisers said, and to his hopes of emerging as the leading alternative to Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

With the State Capitol as the backdrop, Gov. Pawlenty presented a new policy message here Monday, including challenging the state’s sacred ethanol subsidies. He said the nation’s debt burden meant that all areas – including Iowa’s farmers who have grown accustomed to subsidies – must be reconsidered.

“The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out,” Gov. Pawlenty said. “We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it.”