Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flikr
Tim Pawlenty, whose presidential hopes more or less depend on a strong showing in Iowa, is trying to reset expectations as to what “a strong showing” there would mean.”I don’t think we need to win Iowa,” Pawlenty told the Christian Broadcasting Network yesterday. “But I think we need to do well there.”
The general consensus is that if the former Minnesota governor doesn’t generate some kind of momentum coming out of the Iowa caucuses, his campaign will end in New Hampshire, where former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has built a commanding lead.
Pawlenty aides are trying (as best they can) to stop the national political press corps from writing “pre-bits,” or preliminary obituaries of the Pawlenty campaign’s collapse. But the facts are difficult to ignore.
Pawlenty is likely to finish behind both Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul in next month’s Ames, Iowa Straw Poll, often considered an early bellwether of the primary campaign. He trails badly in the most recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll of likely caucus attenders. He trails way, way behind Romney in New Hampshire. His fund-raising has been unimpressive. His friends tell the Huffington Post that they don’t understand why the person they know as “the smartest guy in the room” appears so “flat” as he campaigns around the country.
Pawlenty has had trouble positioning himself in a crowded field without a clearly defined hierarchy of contenders. As Sam Stein and Jon Ward write in the Huffington Post:
“Pawlenty may simply be running in the wrong election cycle. The former governor is attempting to peel off conservative primary voters but has been outflanked by Bachmann and [Herman] Cain. Pragmatic Republicans hoping to pick the most electable candidate have been gravitating toward Romney, while the more moderate wing of the party leans toward Jon Huntsman. That leaves little room for a Tim Pawlenty — and even less for one as cautious as he has been to date.”
Ward and Stein note that the expected entry of Texas Governor Rick Perry into the race would further complicate Pawlenty’s path to the nomination.
Political reporters like nothing better than writing someone out of the race. Weak fundraising and luckluster support create negative press, which makes fundraising and support even more difficult to find. Once the death spiral of a political campaign begins, it is almost impossible to reverse.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.