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After a rough showing during the Ames Straw Poll, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, announced on Sunday that he was dropping out of the presidential race. Before his campaign even began, it has come to a premature end after his third place finish in the poll, behind state rival Michele Bachmann and small government favorite Ron Paul.
“I wish it would have been different. But obviously the pathway forward for me doesn’t really exist so we are going to end the campaign,” Pawlenty said on ABC’s “This Week” from Iowa shortly after disclosing his plans in a private conference call with supporters.
Pawlenty senior adviser Phil Musser told media that Pawlenty “just wasn’t willing to risk debt to soldier on — part of why he would have been a good president.”
Pawlenty’s campaign struggled to stand out among a crowded field of GOP candidates. Iowa was a necessary state for Pawlenty to win to even compete for the nomination. “What I brought forward, I thought, was a rational, established, credible, strong record of results, based on experience governing – a two-term governor of a blue state. But I think the audience, so to speak, was looking for something different,” he said.
Pawlenty has already struggled against Bachmann and with Texas governor Rick Perry entering the fray, Pawlenty would have had more difficulty gaining momentum. “I thought I would have made a great president,” Pawlenty said. “I do believe we’re going to have a very good candidate who is going to beat Barack Obama.”
He didn’t immediately suggest who that would be. Bachmann was quick to offer praise to Pawlenty. “I wish him well,” Bachmann said. “He brought a really important voice into the race and I am grateful that he was in. He was really a very good competitor.”
Pawlenty said his message “didn’t get the kind of traction or lift that we needed and hoped for coming into the and out of the Ames straw poll. We needed to get some lift to continue on and to have a pathway forward. That didn’t happen.”
Even after the poll though, Pawlenty suggested that he would continue in the race, calling the test vote “an important first step on the road to the Republican nomination and, ultimately, the White House.
“This is a long process to restore America – we are just beginning, and I’m eager for the campaign.”
He conceded though, “We have a lot more work to do.”
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