WASHINGTON/MINNEAPOLIS May 23 U.S. Republican
presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty says he will not have enough
money to run a "BMW" campaign nationally but he is making a big
financial bet on Iowa, where he needs to make a big splash to
keep his bid afloat.
Pawlenty, who declared his candidacy on Sunday for the 2012
vote, has more troops on the ground in Iowa than any of the
other candidates combined, according to the Iowa Republican
The Iowa caucuses in February 2012 are slated to be the
first major contest in the process to nominate the Republican
candidate to run against Democratic President Barack Obama in
the 2012 presidential election.
Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor who is lagging in
polls, has about 10 field staffers, a state director, deputy
state director and state chairman in Iowa, according to his
He is running a big and costly operation in the early
voting state, said Larry Jacobs, a University of Minnesota
political science professor.
"It's a Napoleonic army sort of thing," Jacobs said. "This
is like a cruise ship he's put together."
Current fund-raising figures are not available yet but
Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC raised $3.4 million during the
2010 election cycle and spent $3.2 million, according to the
Center for Responsive Politics.
Big contributions came from executives, employees or the
political action committees of Morgan Stanley, Citadel
Investment and Comcast Corp.
In recent weeks, he has held several big-ticket
Republican rival Mitt Romney is likely to do well in the
other main early voting state New Hampshire, next door to
Massachusetts where he was governor.
So Pawlenty, who has recently beefed up his conservative
credentials with an eye on winning in Iowa, is gambling on
making a hit early in the Midwestern state and carrying that
momentum into the rest of the race.
"This is Pawlenty putting a lot of eggs in one basket, but
he needs to," said David Peterson, an associate professor at
Iowa State University. "It could be over pretty quick for
Pawlenty if he doesn't do well here and that isn't the case for
any other candidate."
Pawlenty on Monday tried to dampen expectations about how
much cash he will raise.
"We will not be the money champion in the race to start
with. My friend, Mitt Romney, will be the front-runner in that
regard," he told NBC's Today show, noting his nomination bid
"may not be the BMW or the Mercedes campaign."
Nevertheless, Pawlenty has attracted top political campaign
talent in Iowa, Jacobs said, who are "pulling down big
paychecks. Pawlenty needs to be careful he doesn't create the
McCain mistake," Jacobs said.
Republican Senator and presidential candidate John McCain
was forced to downscale his campaign after spending lavishly in
2007, laying off staffers and damaging morale.
This time, Republican candidates are struggling to keep up
with Obama, a strong incumbent president, in the opinion polls
and money stakes.
Pawlenty formally launched his presidential attempt with a
speech in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday.
The Republican race for money is slow going, although
Romney is ahead of Pawlenty and other candidates such as Newt
Romney's fund-raising political action committee raised
about three times as much as Pawlenty's during the 2010
election cycle, and his personal wealth gives him another
"You basically have Romney head and shoulders above
everyone else," said Anthony Corrado, a government professor at
Colby College in Maine. "The question is which of the
candidates will be in the position by the end of this year to
raise the $25 million to $30 million they will need for Iowa
and New Hampshire."
Romney is well on his way there, having raised more than
$10 million last week alone at a "dialing for dollars"
"The challenge for Governor Pawlenty is he's a new face in
national politics. He had no preexisting network (of funders)
or personal wealth. He's spent a lot of time introducing
himself to Republicans around the country." said Alex Conant,
spokesman for the campaign.
(Additional reporting by Ros Krasny and David Morgan; Editing
by Cynthia Osterman)