Pawlenty's huge Iowa gamble

First, he has to court Iowa’s influential Christian conservatives, who care deeply about social and religious issues. That takes time away from talking about jobs and the economy, and still doesn’t guarantee him their votes in a field that also includes Bachmann and Rick Santorum.

Second, a commitment to Iowa means a commitment to the Iowa Straw Poll, a high-risk test of the organizing skills needed to win the caucuses six months later. The Aug. 13 event has a history of ending candidacies within weeks, sometimes hours. “He needs to play and he needs to do well there,” Gentry Collins, a former national party official who ran Romney’s 2008 campaign in Iowa, says of Pawlenty…

The money could help, if it was there to spend. “They clearly don’t have it. So in the end I’m not sure how they’re going to implement their straw-poll strategy,” the consultant said. “I know so many of the vendors who aren’t getting paid. They are holding back so many bills.” And that’s on top of a Washington Post report last week that several aides are working without pay.