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DES MOINES—After finishing third at the Iowa Straw Poll, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is quitting his quest to become the GOP nominee for President.Pawlenty had put everything into a strong showing at the Straw Poll, hoping a first or second-place would allow him to raise more money and continue his campaign into the primary season.
Instead the more energetic Bachmann and Paul campaigns emerged at the top.
Early on Pawlenty was seen as a top-tier candidate, but he was never able to gain traction with GOP voters. To some extent, he was hoping to make an “electability” argument among the more conservative candidates, but the lack of momentum and the entrance of Rick Perry into the race blew that out of the water.
On ABC’s This Week, Pawlenty announced his decision to end his campaign, and acknowledged that with the field widening, it narrowed his chances for winning.
“We needed to get some lift to continue on and have a pathway forward,” Pawlenty said. “That didn’t happen, so I’m announcing this morning on your show that I’m going to be ending my campaign for president.”
Last night the Pawlenty campaign put out a statement indicating he would stay in the race, but by the morning it became clear he could not remain in the race — as fundraising that was already slipping, was going to cease almost completely.
“I thought I would have been a great president but obviously that path, for now” doesn’t exist, he said.
His exit may make room for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to reenter the Iowa caucuses, with social conservatives split between Perry and Bachmann. Romney placed second in Iowa in 2008, and has much stronger name recognition and fundraising capacity than Pawlenty.