WASHINGTON - Minnesota Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann raised their national profiles in competing presidential bids, but both also ended their quests in debt, according to campaign reports filed Tuesday.
Pawlenty, however, got a little help from current GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, who, along with relatives and staffers, contributed more than $65,000 to help the former Minnesota governor chip away at his debt, which now stands at $103,000.
Bachmann, in her third term in Congress, filed reports with the Federal Election Commission showing her campaign about $88,000 short on outstanding obligations.
Pawlenty said he was out of money when he dropped out of the race in August and threw his support behind Romney. Campaign finance reports filed in October showed Pawlenty with debts of $435,000, a sum that has since been whittled down with the help of Romney, for whom he serves as a national campaign co-chair. Both Romney and his wife, Ann, contributed $2,500 apiece, the maximum allowed for individual donors.
Romney will host a rally with Pawlenty today at Freightmasters Logistics Inc., a trucking company in Eagan.
Bachmann, who helped push Pawlenty out of the race by besting the GOP field in the August straw poll in Iowa, also struggled to fund her campaign for the long run. She raised only $1.7 million in the last three months of the year, which ended with a disappointing last-place finish in the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3.
She had taken in $4.1 million the previous quarter, a period that included her surprise win in the straw poll. Even that haul represented a drop from the first heady days of her campaign, when she was able to raise $4.2 million, much of it right after her announcement in June.
By October, when she had fallen out of the top tier in the GOP primary race, federal reports showed that Bachmann was burning through money faster than she could replenish it from small-dollar donors who made up the bulk of her contributors.
As the make-or-break Iowa caucuses approached, Bachmann was unable to air television ads until the last day of the campaign.
But counting on money transferred from her congressional campaign, Bachmann was able to last to the Iowa caucuses, raising a total of $9.2 million in her White House bid. Pawlenty raised just under $6 million. Both their fundraising totals were dwarfed by rivals such as Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose entry into the race eclipsed Bachmann's straw poll victory.
Bachmann's year-end report showed that the $1.7 million she raised in the last quarter came from 24,825 contributors, an average of $49.22 each. She ended the year with $358,725 in cash, money she can transfer to her congressional re-election campaign. However, she also reported $447,040 in campaign debts, leaving her $88,000 in the hole.
Kevin Diaz is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau.