Hundreds of people attended a "kickoff" fundraiser for likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty in his home state of Minnesota Wednesday night, designed to give his bank account a jolt before he makes his bid official.

Four hundred people showed up for the Minneapolis event, according to Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant. During a fundraising swing through Chicago and Texas last week, Pawlenty raised more than $800,000, and an adviser said that last night's total surpassed that. 

Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, is looking to make a strong showing in the second fundraising quarter as he launches his presidential campaign.

Likewise, political observers will look to his second-quarter fundraising report, which will come after July, for evidence that he is keeping pace.

The Minnesota event happened the same week that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) raised more than $10 million in one day during a fundraising event in Las Vegas.

Pawlenty told The Associated Press that Romney will almost certainly outraise other GOP candidates in the field, but said he just wants to raise enough to have a competitive campaign apparatus.

"Our goal is not to keep up with Mitt. Our goal is to raise enough money to have at least a Buick, if not a Cadillac-level, campaign," Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty has raised $160,000 in the 10 days following the formation of his exploratory committee, according to a Federal Election Commission report. At his Minneapolis event, attendees could either pay $2,500 for a VIP reception and dinner or $1,000 for dinner.

Conant said that Pawlenty will make a formal announcement about his presidential campaign "in next few weeks."