Tim Pawlenty now thinks he spent too much time and money in Iowa, and Monday night said that if he knew then what he knows now he probably would still be in the Republican presidential race.
After his official governor’s portrait was unveiled Monday night in the Minnesota Capitol, he said that in hindsight he may have pulled out of the race too soon.
“We were out of money; to go forward you have to have money,” Pawlenty said. “Hindsight is always 20-20.”
“I put too many chips in that contest in Iowa when hindsight would suggest I should have stretched that out a little longer,” Pawlenty told reporters, in his first such public comments since he left the race Aug. 14, the day after a poor showing in a key Iowa straw poll.
Before the poll in Ames, he practically lived in Iowa, home of the country’s first presidential caucuses early next year.
“Again, you can’t go back and change those decisions,” he said, adding: “We didn’t have any additional chips to see the next card in the hand.”
Pawlenty said his mistake was using too many of his resources too early, while he should have spread them out.
Still, he defended his decision. “Based on what we knew at the time, we thought it was the right call.”
Pawlenty appears to be focusing away from government and politics, at least for now, after years of public service.
He was on the Eagan, Minn., planning commission and the City Council before serving 10 years in the Minnesota Legislature, ending his tenure as majority leader. Then he began an eight-year service as governor.
His wife, Mary, hinted that Pawlenty may be done with elective office.
“Tim is only 50, there is another chapter,” she said about his life. “Maybe not politics.”
But, she told those at the portrait unveiling ceremony, that he has been devoted to politics. Later, Pawlenty thanked his family for putting up with being in the spotlight and him being gone during his political life.
While governor, he finished second to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential running mate in 2008. Before ending his term as governor, Pawlenty was laying groundwork for a presidential run that he launched early this year and ended Aug. 14.
Since leaving the Republican presidential race, Pawlenty said, “I have been trying to get the rest of my life in order that I have put on hold. … I got that home fertilizer down. Cleaned out the basement.”
More important to his future, however, the 50-year-old former governor is looking for a private sector job, or jobs. He said he that he thinks he will take multiple part-time jobs for now, but may settle into one down the road.
He said he is looking into jobs on boards, in the non-profit sector, think tanks and policy groups. He said he also could do some consulting or start a business.
“I have six to eight ideas and probably two or three of them will come to fruition,” he said, refusing to be more specific.
He dodged questions about his political future, including the rumor that he could run against U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in two years or for president again in four years.
“I just don’t know what I am going to be doing,” Pawlenty said about politics.
However, in the immediate future Pawlenty is helping former rival GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He appears for Romney on Sunday’s NBC-TV “Meet the Press.”
“I have given a lot of my life to public service,” he added, hinting at future runs. “I love it and think it is very meaningful. … I haven’t ruled anything in or anything out.”