Pawlenty campaign manager Nick Ayers talks to the New York Times about the upcoming Ames Straw Poll:
Q. I thought it begins in three weeks in the straw poll.
A. The media certainly treat this as a traditional kick-off. It’s a great opportunity to show organization, and show momentum developing. We accept as fact the Des Moines Register poll that ran three weeks ago, that showed us in a solid sixth-place finish. We’ve got to show real movement.
Q. I talked to an Iowa reporter who said, “They’ve built a fantastic organization — but it’s all infrastructure, no buzz.” What do you say to that?
A. That’s why he’s here for the next twenty of thirty days. Either that theory will be affirmed, or we’ll prove them wrong. If we show up at the straw poll in three weeks and there’s been no movement, then I would say that theory’s affirmed. I don’t believe that’s what’s going to happen.
Full interview here. Pawlenty press secretary Alex Conant also has tried to downplay the importance of Ames, telling NRO that Pawlenty must do better than sixth or seventh, but not necessarily win first or second. But, as GOP12′s Christian Heinze has been pointing out, even more recent polls have been showing Pawlenty coming in third in Iowa. The Pawlenty campaign seems to be trying to structure a third-place finish at Ames as a comeback story, but if the polls hold, it may not be much of switch for Pawlenty’s standing in the state.