It appears Tim Pawlenty may be willing to bet his entire campaign on the upcoming Iowa straw poll.
Per Politico's Bryan Tau, the former Minnesota governor's campaign has placed a $200,000 TV and radio ad buy in the Des Moines media market ahead of the Aug. 13th poll in Ames. That brings Pawlenty's ad spending in the state in recent weeks to more than $400,000--a major chunk of cash for Pawlenty's less than flush campaign.
According to Pawlenty aides, the ex-governor ended the second fundraising quarter on June 30th with $1.4 million cash in the bank to spend on the GOP primary.
The campaign had previously said it had budgeted nearly $1.8 million to spend on the Ames straw poll alone. It's unclear if Pawlenty will stick with that estimate given he's expected to have less cash on hand than many of his 2012 rivals, including Michele Bachmann, who will finally disclose her second quarter financials to the Federal Election Commission today.
Pawlenty desperately needs a strong showing at next month's straw poll. While he's spent more time in the state than any other candidate besides Rick Santorum, the ex-governor has struggled to gain momentum in early 2012 polls.
In recent days, he's sought to appeal to both evangelicals in the state, releasing a video that talks about the role of faith in his life. He's also touted the hiring of Mike Huckabee's daughter, Sarah, who likened Pawlenty to her father.
Yesterday, Pawlenty announced he'll embark on a RV tour through Iowa next week, where he'll visit 13 counties and 18 cities in what he's calling a "Road to Results" tour.
Pawlenty has shrugged off suggestions that his campaign is struggling. In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" last weekend, he denied that his campaign is "on the ropes."
"Early polls are not good predictors of anything," he insisted. "Rudy Giuliani would be president, or Hillary Clinton would be president, or Howard Dean would be president if these early polls meant anything."