WASHINGTON - Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday unveiled a 16-person national fundraising team studded with veterans of other presidential campaigns, including those of potential rival Mitt Romney.

The new team will be led by Brian Haley, who ran Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC fundraising efforts and who served as deputy finance director for the John McCain-Sarah Palin campaign in 2008.

Katie McBreen, who worked for Romney's 2008 presidential campaign, will be Pawlenty's deputy finance director. Trisha Hamm is Pawlenty's Minnesota finance director. She was his gubernatorial campaign's finance coordinator and political director and also worked on his Freedom First PAC.

Other fundraisers include veterans from the presidential campaigns of Rudy Giuliani and President George W. Bush.

Fundraising will be one of Pawlenty's steepest challenges in his exploratory campaign for the White House. The former two-term Minnesota governor must compete for big dollars against several candidates with established, national networks.

High fundraising numbers can put a candidate on the map. In 2007, then-candidate Barack Obama made a splash after hauling in nearly $26 million in his first quarter, matching the numbers of Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner at the time.

With an exploratory committee, Pawlenty can begin fundraising and hiring staff for his presidential run even before he formally declares his candidacy.

In 2010, Pawlenty posted solid numbers for a relatively unknown governor. He raised $2.1 million federally through his Freedom First political committee and $380,000 in his Iowa and New Hampshire state political action committees. While he raised more than some 2012 hopefuls in the midterm elections, Pawlenty trailed two top rivals: Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, who raised $4.7 million, and former Alaska Gov. Palin, who raised $3.6 million.

Once candidates form an exploratory committee, they start again at zero: Money raised through PACs cannot be used for a presidential run.

Jeremy Herb • 202-408-2723