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.
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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.)