Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is putting together a national fundraising team as he readies a presidential run. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank/Files

The finance operation will be overseen by Brian Haley, who is currently serving as national finance director for Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC and previously held that same title for Sen. John McCain’s leadership political action committee.

Katie McBreen will be Haley’s deputy, coming off a successful stint as finance director for Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran’s 2010 campaign. McBreen previously worked for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. (A full list of Pawlenty’s fundraising team is after the jump.)

The scope of the finance team — there are individuals tasked to specific states like Arizona, Colorado, California, Florida and Texas, as well as regions like the mid-Atlantic and Midwest — suggests Pawlenty is well aware of the need to grow beyond the relatively small sums he raised during his two campaigns for governor of Minnesota.

Even while touting the quality of Pawlenty’s team, his advisers sought to downplay expectations in the cash chase — noting that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would almost certainly raise and spend the most in the fight for the nomination.

In 2008, Romney raised $65 million and loaned himself another $47 million in his unsuccessful bid. And last week Romney met with top donors to set fundraising goals of between $25,000 and $50,000 for the first quarter of the campaign — a pace that, if met, would almost certainly put him clearly at the top of the financial heap in the race’s early days.

But while Pawlenty raised less than $3 million in his gubernatorial campaigns — Minnesota has strict (and low) donation limits and public financing for elections — he spent much of the last election building the pillars of a national finance operation via his national PAC and its state-based affiliates in (you guessed it) Iowa and New Hampshire. Pawlenty raised roughly $4 million through those committees in the last election.

The second fundraising quarter — spanning from April 1 to June 30 — will be critical for Pawlenty as he seeks to prove that he can compete with the top-tier money candidates who are, presumably, Romney and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Pawlenty has built considerable buzz around his candidacy in the first few months of the year thanks to a series of solid early-state hires and his steady performance on the campaign trail. The question before him now is whether he can translate that momentum into money.

Here’s the full list — with titles and geographic focuses — for Pawlenty’s finance team:

Brian Haley, national finance director

Kate McBreen, deputy national finance director

Trisha Hamm, Minnesota finance director

Chrissy Scherer, associate finance director

Andrea Evans, finance consultant (Arizona)

Paige Lance Hahn, senior finance consultant (Mid-Atlantic)

Ann Herberger, senior finance consultant

Pam Kinsey, senior finance consultant (Midwest)

Paige Marriott, senior finance consultant

Alison McIntosh, senior finance consultant (Texas)

Rick Nelson, finance consultant (Minnesota and national)

Gretchen Picotte, senior finance consultant (Florida)

Katie Behnke/Kristin Strohm, finance consultants (Colorado)

Cassandra Vandenberg, senior finance consultant (California)

Shanna Woodbury, finance consultant (Minnesota and national)

Sue Walden, finance consultant (Texas)

Romney sends $25k to N.J. GOP: Speaking of Romney’s money, the former Massachusetts governor is sending $25,000 to the New Jersey state Republican Party, as he continues to be generous with Republican candidates across the country.

The likely presidential candidate has sent more than $300,000 to congressional candidates, though the latest donation is geared toward the state’s 2011 state legislative races.

“It is important to help candidates who are fighting for conservative principles, whether in Washington or in the states,” Romney said in a statement provided to The Fix. “I am happy to support the New Jersey GOP as its leaders fight to cut spending and stand up for the taxpayer.”

DeMint suggests new candidates: At Saturday’s Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) suggested there could be a major shift in the Republican presidential field.

“If no one is an immediate frontrunner,” DeMint told hundreds of GOP activists, “I think you might see a whole new cast of Republican candidates out within the next couple of months.”

The senator himself announced last week that he would not run for president, as some speculated he would. In the last election and in the new Congress, he has worked to incorporate more tea party activists and ideas into the GOP.

Bachmann’s ‘in’: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said this weekend in Iowa that she’s “in” for a presidential run in 2012, and polling data from Gallup suggests she could have some momentum.

Republicans and Republican-leaning independents gave Bachmann the highest “positive intensity” rating among possible GOP contenders in a survey earlier this month, after former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. She clocked in at 20; Huckabee got a 25. (The number is just the difference between strongly favorable and strongly unfavorable opinions of each candidate.)

Bachmann’s name recognition came in at 52 percent among the same group; far lower than Huckabee, Sarah Palin, or Newt Gingrich. However, she’s about 10 points ahead of Pawlenty.

Gibbs to Facebook?: Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs might be headed to social-networking behemoth Facebook, according to the New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin.

The talks are still tentative. When he left the White House, Gibbs was planning to work on the president’s re-election campaign, not go into the private sector immediately.

Fixbits:

The White House is apologizing after a pool reporter was forced to wait in a closet during a fundraiser featuring Vice President Biden. Meanwhile, the reporter says the situation was blown out of proportion.

Newt Gingrich on Sunday said he will likely formalize he presidential campaign in a month and tried to explain his conflicting statements on Libya.

Former Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) said he will decide whether to run for retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka’s (D-Hawaii) seat by mid-April. Case unsuccessfully challenged Akaka in a 2006 primary.

Nevada Republicans are expecting little more than a token 2012 Republican presidential campaign in their state, given Romney’s popularity there.

Nate Silver likes Romney’s chances.

Horizon PAC is gearing up for when Jon Hunstman resigns as ambassador to China.

Former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman Fergus Cullen compares Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 campaign to a “bad first date.” “Sorry, Rudy. You had your chance, and much as we respect your resume, we’re just not interested in going out again,” Cullen wrote in the New Hampshire Union-Leader.

Must-reads:

The Republicans’ Hispanic problem” — Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

GOP presidential prospects court Iowa conservatives” — Dan Balz, Washington Post

Indiana governor sets the blueprint” — Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Libya action creates risks for Obama” — Albert R. Hunt, Bloomberg

Senate rookie Rand Paul makes a big splash in Washington” — Halimah Abdullah, McClatchy

GOP, Democrats eye Florida for 2012” — Adam Smith, St. Petersburg Times