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Published March 30, 2010, 07:32 AM

Minn.'s Pawlenty to hold town hall on Facebook

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential Republican presidential candidate, is reaching out to supporters across the country with a town hall meeting on Facebook, one of the first of its kind.

By: MARTIGA LOHN, Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential Republican presidential candidate, is reaching out to supporters across the country with a town hall meeting on Facebook, one of the first of its kind.

Alex Conant, Pawlenty's political spokesman, said the event Wednesday will feature the governor speaking by live video on his Facebook page. Participants will comment and ask questions using the social-networking site's instant-messaging feature.

"We're looking for new and innovative ways to reach out to Americans," Conant said. "Facebook offers a great potential to reach tens of thousands of people from the luxury of their homes."

The White House has used Facebook for live video chats featuring officials talking about the health care overhaul, credit card proposals and college student aid. President Barack Obama streamed a town hall meeting with students in China on Facebook and the White House Web site, while members of Congress have broadcast news conferences and other appearances on Facebook.

But Conant said Pawlenty's national fundraising committee, Freedom First, could find no other examples of national town hall meetings using Facebook.

Andrew Noyes, a spokesman in Facebook's Washington office, said Pawlenty's event sounds innovative. He said politicians are finding new ways to use Facebook as the network evolves.

"Social media has encouraged unprecedented openness in politics and government and we're eager to see this phenomenon continue," Noyes said.

Pawlenty plans to use the event to ask Facebook users for ideas to help Republicans win this year's elections and slow federal spending.

Pawlenty's second term as governor expires in January. He has ruled out seeking a third term and has been traveling the country speaking to GOP audiences.

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