Tim Pawlenty is performing poorly in the polls, often registering in single digits and in fundraising he remains undistinguished with much of the rest of the pack. Reporting roughly $4 million alongside most candidates, expect Romney who leads in the polls and in fundraising with nearly $20 million.
It is increasingly appearing as if Pawlenty has decided to toughen his tone against his opponent as part of his campaign strategy. Or else the campaign fears it may falter as Pawlenty continues to stand nearly silent and smiling in the back. As conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin put it, “The dig on Tim Pawlenty going into the 2012 presidential primary was that he was too nice, too bland and insufficiently tough to take on President Obama. He reinforced that view when he skewered Mitt Romney on Fox New Sunday (“Obamneycare”) and then whiffed when he appeared face-to-face with Romney in a debate.”
Pawlenty later expressed remorse over the failed opportunity to reinforce his criticism of Romney, and since then has notched up his rhetoric. Most particularly against Rep. Michele Bachmann, a rival for the nominee and fellow Minnesotan. Bachmann and Pawlenty are competing for the same socially conservative voters, especially in Iowa, home to the first primary contest. Bachmann entered the race months after Pawlenty, but has quickly surpassed him in the poll to lead in Iowa and poll second among national Republican voters. And she has raised as much if not more money than Pawlenty in the second-quarter despite starting at a later date. The Pawlenty campaign may view Bachmann as their biggest challenge.
In recent weeks, Pawlenty has criticized Bachman’s Congressional record. Speaking to NBC’s Meet the Press: “I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I’ve campaigned for her, I respect her. But her record of accomplishment in Congress is non-existent.”
And more recently appeared to use Bachmann’s migraines revelation as cause, in a subtle effort, to cast doubt on Bachmann’s candidacy and potential ability as president: “If you’re going to be president of the United States you’ve got to be able to do the job every day, all the time. There’s no real time off in that job.”
Now his campaign chief hints that Bachmann’s campaign will eventually miss the mark. After listing the governor’s record, campaign manager Nick Ayers ended the e-mail with the following message deemed to be in reference to Bachmann: “This doesn’t make great fodder for cable news but as more Republican primary voters start to tune in to the race, they are finding out that the Governor’s record and message will stand the test a brutal campaign. Other candidates’ records (or lack thereof), and plans for the future (or lack thereof) won’t.” (Politico posted the full e-mail)
No word yet from the Bachmann campaign.