Tim Pawlenty’s campaign is on the verge of collapse. After running for president for more than two years, the former Minnesota governor remains in the low single-digits in the polls and has spent time fending off claims that his campaign was involved in surfacing claims about the migraines of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R- Minn.). Now, with the Ames straw poll just around th bend, he needs to pull out all the stops to prevent the collapse of his campaign. And he is.

The Des Moines Register reported:

Candidate success at the straw poll is all about getting bodies to Ames. The Pawlenty consultants are arranging for buses for the advocacy groups.

Knowing the Pawlenty campaign is tight on cash, will they target known Pawlenty supporters for free $30 tickets and seats on their advocacy group buses?

Working for Strong America Now is A-list consultant Nicole Schlinger. She’s also a paid senior adviser to Pawlenty, a Minnesota Republican whose campaign is hoping to make a big splash at the straw poll.

The American Petroleum Institute hired political consultants Chuck Larson and Karen Slifka to promote the Iowa Energy Forum message. Larson and Slifka have been paid consultants for Pawlenty and remain volunteer advisers.

But that sort of expenditure is a drop in the bucket. Documents provided to Right Turn show that Pawlenty has spent more than $440,000 on Iowa ad buys, dwarfing the expenditures of his competitors. No other candidate has spent even $300,000. This does not include direct mail and other expenditures. To put that in perspective, Rick Santorum has spent less than $20,000 on ad buys. If he does about as well as or better than Pawlenty, that would certainly be a telling sign about Pawlenty’s long-term viability in the race.

Pawlenty could certainly become the comeback kid if he were to win or come close to winning. But if he finishes down in the pack, donors are unlikely to keep supporting him. So it makes perfect sense that Pawlenty would spend anything and everything it takes to stay in contention. However, in the process he has no excuses (a Mitt Romney and others who chose not to run in Ames) if he flops.