Pawlenty's NH backers GOP restless in his absence

August 12, 2011 - 3:30 AM
Republicans Debate

Republican presidential candidate former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty speaks during the Iowa GOP/Fox News Debate at the CY Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, Pool)

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty hasn't been to New Hampshire in 60 days.

Granite State Republicans warn that Pawlenty's road to success in the first-in-the-nation primary grows steeper the longer he stays away. But the former Minnesota governor has staked his political future on Saturday's Iowa straw poll. He devoted much of the past two months to the Hawkeye State.

Already one member of Pawlenty's New Hampshire steering committee joined another campaign. Others are teetering.

Some say Pawlenty's New Hampshire operation, the most active early in the year, is paralyzed. But his Granite State team is meeting with voters and key activists in the interim. Pawlenty is also using phone calls and regular visits by his wife to stay connected.

He's scheduled to return to New Hampshire late next week.