Pawlenty says third place at Ames not that important if winners aren’t seen as ‘credible’

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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In what looked like a veiled shot at Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty told reporters Monday that while he might not win the upcoming Ames straw poll, its significance in the grand scheme of things could be undercut if the winners are not seen as “credible” candidates.

According to Bloomberg, Pawlenty told reporters in Iowa today that Ames is “an important event, but it’s not the ultimate event. There’s a lot of uniqueness to the straw poll that gives some advantage to candidates like Ron Paul or Michele Bachmann. But within that, we’re going to do well.” (RELATED: Pawlenty campaign hits back after Bachmann’s attack)

He added that he didn’t think that his fundraising would suffer if he placed third in the straw poll and said that it depended on who took first and second.

“It depends who the other two spots are. How close it is. If the other two, if you’re viewed not, in the long term, credible national candidates, then that’s less significant than if they are,” he told reporters.

When asked, Pawlenty specified that he was not saying that Bachmann and Paul “weren’t viable national candidates,” Bloomberg reports.

“If somebody came in first who the country didn’t view as a credible candidate, that’s less of a hurdle to going forward for fundraising and political support,” Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty’s campaign did not respond to request for comment or clarification.