Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty tried to keep fundraising expectations in check Wednesday for his upcoming Republican presidential campaign, saying he simply needs enough money to run a "Buick"-type campaign.
Pawlenty hit up home-state donors in what aides were calling his biggest fundraising event of the financial quarter. It comes in the same week former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hauled in $10 million in a single day.
Pawlenty says he expects Romney to "be the unquestioned money champion" of the Republican field. Pawlenty declined to say if he would bring in $10 million for the first three months of having a White House fundraising account.
"Our goal is not to keep up with Mitt. Our goal is to raise enough money to have at least a Buick, if not a Cadillac-level, campaign," Pawlenty told reporters before heading into the private dinner.
Pawlenty raised $800,000 last week and Wednesday's event was on pace to bring in a higher total, advisers said.
About 400 people were expected to attend the event at a Minneapolis warehouse-turned-office-building, giving up to the $2,500 federal maximum and some bringing checks gathered from donors not in attendance.
It was the same venue that hosted now President Barack Obama's first Minnesota presidential fundraiser, where 3,000 people paid between $15 and $25 to hear the Illinois Democratic senator.
Pawlenty formed his exploratory committee in late March, bringing in $160,000 in the first 10 days. The 2012 campaign's next reporting deadline arrives in July.
Pawlenty leaves Thursday for a fundraising swing in California. He said he would announce "in the next few weeks or less" if he was a full-blown candidate.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)