Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty may trail former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Iowa polls, but the Minnesota presidential hopeful outspent his Massachusetts counterpart more than two-to-one on contributions to Iowa political candidates and conservative groups in the final quarter of 2010.

Pawlenty gave $34,000 to 19 politicians and organizations through his Iowa Freedom First political action committee, while Romney donated $16,000 with his PAC, according to Iowa campaign finance reports. Pawlenty also kept pace with Romney on the state fundraising front, raising $81,000 to Romney’s $87,500.

Among his contributions, Pawlenty gave $5,000 to Iowans for Tax Relief — the same group that Rep. Michele Bachmann is speaking to on Friday. Pawlenty addressed the group last year.

One downside for Pawlenty: He has just $1,900 remaining in his Iowa account, while Romney still has $108,600 in the bank.

State political committees are often used by undeclared presidential candidates to supplement their federal coffers. While donors can only give $5,000 per year to a federal political action committee, they aren’t prevented from also donating to state committees, which often have looser rules.

Pawlenty has established state committees in Iowa and New Hampshire — the first in the nation caucus and primary states — while Romney has five in all.

Romney, who ran for president in 2008, is viewed by many as the early frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2012.

On Sunday, Pawlenty hinted at how important Iowa was for his presidential ambitions, saying, “For somebody like me, you have to do very well, win or do very well, in Iowa."

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