Tim Pawlenty Goes All-In On Iowa

Tim Pawlenty is dropping big money in Iowa, confirming that the caucus is still his top priority despite a weak start in the polls and recent quotes downplaying the state’s importance.

The ex-Minnesota governor recently booked $200,000 in TV ad time, according to the AP, and is on pace to spend $430,000 by mid-August. The Ames Straw Poll, a traditional test of candidates’ organizational strength, is August 13. Pawlenty has spent the most on ads so far as the race’s money leader, Mitt Romney, has sat out the air wars.

In addition to the new TV buy, recent FEC filings show Pawlenty spent the most on Iowa vendors of any candidate: about $200,000.

The big challenge for Pawlenty in the short term is stealing some of Minnesota rival Michele Bachmann’s thunder, who is currently leading multiple polls in the state.