Gov. Tim Pawlenty may not have the star power of Sarah Palin -- the $12 million bank account and the Lear Jet mandate and the poll advantage -- but he's ahead of her in at least one area when it comes to a potential 2012 run at the White House: Political action committee fundraising. Palin's' SarahPAC raised $400,000 in the first three months of the year, according to FEC reports. Tim Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC raised $566K. But both came in behind former Massachusetts GOP Gov. Mitt Romney, who hauled $1.45 million.
Pawlenty has started an outreach effort among members of Congress ahead of his possible presidential bid, according to a report in Congressional Quarterly. Minnesota GOP Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen have been getting the governor in front of other Republicans on Capitol Hill, his PAC donated $10,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee last quarter, and he met with NRSC chair John Cornyn and more than eight other GOP Senators recently.
Rep. Michele Bachmann attended a recent breakfast gathering with T-Paw in D.C. But Bachmann, who knows how to draw and crowd and raise a lot of money, told Congressional Quarterly she hasn't picked sides yet.
"I am in not any camp at all," Bachmann said when asked if she was picking sides at this early stage of the 2012 contest. "I'm more than happy as a member of the Minnesota delegation to smooth any pathways that I can for our governor. But I'm not working actively on his presidential campaign or on any presidential campaign."
During his recent Facebook town hall, Pawlenty also endorsed seven GOP candidates for national office -- none of them incumbents:
- Tim Burns in Pennsylvania's 12th district
- Bob Dold in the Illinois 10th
- Sean Duffy in Wisconsin's 7th
- Charles Djou in Hawaii's 1st
- Pat Meehan in Pennsylvania's 7th
- Former Rep. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania for Senate
- Gov. John Hoeven of North Dakota for Senate