Reporting Reg Chapman
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is out of the presidential race. After months of trying, and a disappointing showing in Iowa, Pawlenty pulled the plug Sunday morning.
He only got 14 percent of the vote at Saturday’s Iowa Straw Poll which was way behind fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann.
“Politics is largely about timing and it just happened that this election year, this cycle, the timing wasn’t right for Tim Pawlenty,” said Brian McClung.
McClung was Pawlenty’s deputy chief of staff for six years. He was also a consultant for his presidential campaign.
McClung was not surprised when his former boss dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination.
“Tim Pawlenty’s the kind of guy who’s not just going to run just for the heck of it. He was in this because he felt he really had a lot to offer the country,” said McClung. “He has a record of result as governor of Minnesota, he’s got vision, he’s got character. He’s the right guy at this time to be president and when he saw that there really wasn’t a pathway for him.”
Pawlenty was hoping for a boost out of Iowa, both politically and with donors. His third place finish did not do what he was hoping it would, so he decided to get out.
“We had some success raising money but we needed to continue that and Ames was a benchmark for that and we didn’t do well in Ames, we weren’t going to have the fuel to keep the car going down the road,” said Pawlenty.
Others thought Pawlenty would re-group and were surprised when he quit.
Chairman of Minnesota GOP Tony Sutton is urging Pawlenty to consider another run for office.
“I think Minnesota and America is going to see a lot more of Governor Pawlenty,” said Sutton. “I don’t know if he’s going to have vice-presidential interest from some of the eventual nominee or I’m sure hoping he’ll consider running for the U.S. Senate against Amy Klobuchar; I think he would be a great candidate. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Tim Pawlenty.”
Fellow Minnesotan Bachmann, winner of the Iowa Straw Poll, praised her competitor but came short of saying if he would back her bid for president.
McClung pointed out that other Republicans like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did not win the nomination the first time but eventually became president.