Pawlenty Ends His White House Dream

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s dream of being president ended with a third-place finish at an Iowa straw poll.

Pawlenty this morning said he would not continue his campaign, The Associated Press reported. He was to make his official announcement on ABC’s “This Week.”

U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas each received twice as many votes as Pawlenty in Saturday’s Ames, Iowa, straw poll. While the poll was not binding, it gave campaigns an indication of what Iowa Republican activists think of their candidacies and how well presidential hopefuls have organized their campaigns.

Bachmann received 28.6 percent of the Ames votes, followed by Paul’s 27.7 percent. Pawlenty recorded 13.6 percent.

Before the poll, the ex-governor said he needed to move from the rear of the pack to near the front. Many pundits thought his third-placing showing would be good enough to keep him in the race.

However, the AP reports that he told supporters in a conference call early today that he would end his campaign. Several reports in recent weeks indicate Pawlenty has not raised as much money as he needs to be competitive.

Many Minnesotans traveled to Ames to help Pawlenty in the straw poll, including a former aide to the governor, Brian McClung. After news broke after Pawlenty’s depature, McClung tweeted that “it was an honor to serve” him and said said his former boss is a great leader and person.

There was no indication before the Ames poll that Pawlenty, 50, was thinking about leaving the race. He appeared upbeat and during a Thursday night debate he strongly criticized Bachmann.

In fact, after the straw poll’s results were announced Saturday night, Pawlenty tweeted: “Congrats to Rep. Bachmann on her win. Our campaign needed to show progress and we did. I’m eager for the campaign ahead.”

Minutes after AP’s Brian Bakst broke the story, speculation began about whether he would challenge U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., next year. Last week he said he was not interested in that race.

Pawlenty long has had his eye on Washington.

Before the 2002 elections, he planned to challenge then-U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone. However, he stepped aside for fellow Republican Norm Coleman at the request of the George W. Bush White House.

In 2008, he finished second to Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain’s running mate.

Right after the 2008 election, Pawlenty appeared to have set his sights on the White House and in late 2009 delivered a Des Moines, Iowa, speech in anticipation of the 2012 first-in-the-country presidential caucuses in the Hawkeye state.

Pawlenty put everything he had into the Iowa campaign, visiting hundreds of communities before the Ames poll, more than any other candidate.