Neel Kashkari has tried to manage fundraising expectations around his run for governor by suggesting that, in a primary contest between two underfunded Republicans, he only needs to be the "strongest weakling" to succeed.
On the East Coast meeting with potential donors and media outlets, Kashkari on Monday offered a more vivid variation on that theme.
"Well, step one is to get through the primary," the former U.S. Treasury Department official said when asked about campaign money on CNBC's Squawk Box. "And I like to joke that I need to be the tallest Smurf to get through the primary. And then the tallest Smurf gets to go take on Gargamel in the November general election. So getting through the primary, we probably need to raise a few million dollars more."
Kashkari's remarks come after filings last week showed his fundraising effort tapering off after a fast start. He has more than $900,000 in cash on hand, far more than Republican rival Tim Donnelly, who has less than $11,000, but a fraction of the nearly $20 million Brown holds.
The "Smurf" reference appeared to work for Squawk Box.
"Tallest Smurf" one of Kashkari's hosts repeated later in the interview. "No one can get mad at that, because they're not real, are they?"
Said Kashkari: "Well, there may be little blue people somewhere."
PHOTO: Republican Neel Kashkari speaks with reporters at Oroville Dam on March 28, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders