ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe (@jaffematt) reports:
Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is set to report today that he has raised a total of $4.5 million since he entered the race a few months ago, according to a campaign aide. The former Minnesota governor will report that he has $2 million cash-on-hand, with around $1.4 million of that for the primary and $600,000 set aside for the general election if he makes it that far.
But making it that far will be no small feat for Pawlenty, who has struggled in recent weeks. He was roundly criticized for not standing up to GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney in the New Hampshire debate last month. He recorded only six percent support in the highly-anticipated Des Moines Register poll a few weeks later. His fundraising haul in the second quarter has been seen as disappointing. And one of his top advisers Vin Weber had to apologize for saying that rival Michele Bachmann would be tough to beat in the Iowa caucuses because of her “sex appeal.”
Pawlenty is now banking on a strong showing in the Ames straw poll in early August to boost his campaign. Sources in Iowa outside the Pawlenty camp believe that he needs to finish in the top three to avoid a potentially fatal blow to his candidacy. Since a key part of success in Ames is the organizational skill to get thousands of supporters to travel to the center of the state to cast their votes on a mid-summer Saturday, Pawlenty – with his highly-respected campaign staff – has the potential to do well there. But his poll numbers lately have been less than stellar.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday, Pawlenty shrugged off the poll numbers, cautioning that early polls are poor predictors of eventual outcomes.
"I just announced my campaign six weeks ago, so I think it's a little early for that," he said. "But, more importantly, these early polls are not a good indicator of anything. If they were, Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton would be president of the United States. They almost never predict the outcome. And when people get to know my record in Minnesota of, you know, reducing taxes, cutting spending, doing healthcare reform the right way — no mandates, no takeovers — doing public employee pension and benefit and pay reform and the like, I think my campaign will do quite well."
In an effort to convince Iowa voters ahead to Ames, Pawlenty this week will embark on a five-day swing through the state, starting on Monday afternoon. Today his campaign is also announcing their national finance co-chairs: Dave Frauenshuh, Russ Gerson, Phil Handy, Tom Hicks, Ken Moelis, Joe Schmuckler, and Ray Washburne.