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To win in Iowa, Pawlenty could take the Huckabee approach

WASHINGTON — With stagnant poll numbers and weak fundraising totals, presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty could look to Mike Huckabee to find a winning approach in Iowa.

Tim Pawlenty
MinnPost/Jay Weiner
Tim Pawlenty
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Mike Huckabee
REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Mike Huckabee

Huckabee, and his shake-every-hand campaigning style, executed that strategy well. Of the 1,700 Iowans on Huckabee’s campaign mailing list, 1,500 ended up going to Ames, Huckabee national campaign chairman Chip Saltsman said.

“If Pawlenty can do the same thing, I think he will do well,” he said.

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“When you don’t have money you have to rely on a grassroots effort,” he said. “You can win with grassroots in Iowa.”

“We would have been ecstatic if we had had the fundraising that Pawlenty had,” Vander Plaats said.

But the campaign used all it could focusing on — what else? — Ames, spending all but a few thousand dollars during the ramp-up to the straw poll.

“Presidential campaigns don’t lose. They run out of money,” Saltsman said. “If you’re not spending on the Iowa Straw Poll, you’re wasting money.”

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Part of Huckabee’s strategy included using strong debate performances to his advantage, but debates “have to be memorable for the right reasons,” Vander Plaats said. That means no “Obamneycare” misfires like the one that marred the second half of Pawlenty’s June.

“He can use this as a way to change the narrative,” Yepsen said.