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Pawlenty Abandons Presidential Bid

Updated: 11:07 a.m.

Tim Pawlenty is withdrawing from the GOP presidential primary, the former Minnesota governor announced Sunday, a day after he placed a distant third in the Ames straw poll despite devoting much of his campaign time and resources to Iowa.

Pawlenty made his announcement during an interview with Jake Tapper on ABC’s “This Week.”

“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.”

He also ruled out the possibility of running for vice president. “No, I’ve been down that road,” he said. “That’s not something I’m even going to consider.”

He received 2,293 votes in Ames, less than half the votes of the first-place finisher, Rep. Michele Bachmann. The Minnesota Republican won with 4,823 votes, or 28.6 percent of the total votes cast. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was close behind with 4,671 votes.

Money was the first factor that Pawlenty listed while explaining his decision. “Obviously, we had some success raising money, but we needed to continue that, and Ames was a benchmark for that,” he said. “And if we didn’t do well in Ames, we weren’t going to have the fuel to keep the car going down the road.”

He later said, “What we do know, at least for Ames and for Iowa and for me, is my record of being a two-term governor in a blue state with all the record — results that I had wasn’t sufficient to get us to the next phase.” 

Pawlenty wasn’t ready to endorse another candidate Sunday, although he said he probably would eventually. “But I do believe that we’re going to have a very good candidate who’s going to beat Barack Obama,” he said.

Bachmann has the qualifications to run the White House, he said, but she will need “to make her case to the American people about whether she’s the best candidate and why she should be the Republican nominee and why she should be the next president against Barack Obama. And time will tell whether she can do that.”

Pawlenty said he doesn’t have plans for himself beyond taking his daughter to college soon. “And then I really don’t know what the future holds for me,” he said. “I have absolutely no plans, which is at the same time very liberating but also a little concerning, so I’ve got to get to work.”

Bachmann, who appeared after Pawlenty on “This Week,” was complimentary of her former competitor. “I wish him well,” she said. “I have great respect for the governor. We’ve known each other for a long, long time. And he brought a really important voice into this race. And I’m grateful that he was in. He was really a very good competitor.”

GOP presidential contenders Herman Cain, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also praised Pawlenty, with Cain writing on Twitter, “I wish Governor Pawlenty the best. Of the many candidates, he was one of the kindest in the race.” In a statement, Huntsman called Pawlenty “an accomplished Governor, a proud conservative, and someone of tremendous character,” and Romney said in a separate statement that Pawlenty “has a bright future ahead of him as a leader in the Republican Party.”

Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report.

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