No foolin’. Ron Paul’s take, for comparison purposes? $4.5 million.

I’m resisting the urge to go full eeyore here, but it ain’t easy.

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty raised $4.2 million over the past three months, a total likely to raise questions about his perceived status as the primary alternative to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the 2012 Republican presidential race.

Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant confirmed the number, adding that the governor “begins the third quarter with more available cash-on-hand than the Republicans who won the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary had in July 2007.” Conant offered no specifics about Pawlenty’s cash on hand total…

A Pawlenty aide said the number was “slightly off” the campaign’s goal of raising $4.5 million for the quarter but added: “There are a lot of people waiting on the field to prove themselves.”

The aide also noted that fundraising dropped off for a week or so following Pawlenty’s roundly-panned debate performance in New Hampshire before picking up considerably over the final week of June.

Huntsman raised $4.1 million but a chunk of that was his own money. As for T-Paw, here’s the best spin I can muster: No one expects him to be doing big bank right now. He’s potentially the “not Romney” candidate in the field, but he won’t/can’t be crowned that until (a) Mitt starts taking heavy fire, which will galvanize anti-Romney sentiment among undecideds, and (b) Pawlenty’s competitors to Romney’s right begin to fade or meltdown. T-Paw was always meant to be a late bloomer, in other words. His problem is that, while attacks on Romney are a fait accompli and there’s a fair chance Perry and Palin won’t run, there’s no reason at this point to think that Bachmann will fade. If I had to bet, I’d bet that she crushes him at the Ames straw poll next month, which will convince plenty of big donors that he’s too long a shot in the early states to invest in. What does he do for money after that? I’ve never bought into the theory that Bachmann is some sort of stalking horse for Romney, but man, if she ends up torpedoing his chief competition in Iowa for him, he owes her a cabinet position at least. Good lord.

Speaking of which, Romney’s own numbers aren’t out yet but he’ll reportedly do $15-20 million, with another $10 million raised by his supporters for their new super PAC. Impressive, but don’t forget that half of that take came during a moneybomb stunt in a single day — and that his numbers this time were only on par with what he did three years ago. Obama, by comparison, is looking at a $60 million take for the quarter. It’s nice to be an incumbent who doesn’t have to compete for primary dollars, huh? Exit question: What’s the over/under on Bachmann’s second quarter haul? She’s been in the race officially for just five days, but she’s a legendary fundraiser. If she drops some unexpectedly high number, it’s going to make Pawlenty smell like an even bigger loser by comparison.