- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Sunday that he’s dropping out of the Republican presidential race, just hours after finishing a disappointing third in the Iowa Straw Poll.

“We needed to get some lift to continue on and have a pathway forward,” Mr. Pawlenty said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That didn’t happen, so I’m announcing this morning on your show that I’m going to be ending my campaign for president.”

By doing so, Mr. Pawlenty becomes the first big name to exit the race, with his announcement coming the day after Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race, reshuffling the deck for Republican voters.

“I wish it would have been different, but obviously the pathway forward for me doesn’t really exist,” he said, adding that he likely would have struggled to raise money. “The audience was looking for something different.”

His last stand may have come at the GOP debate in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday, where Mr. Pawlenty refused to back off his frequent criticism of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s thin record of accomplishment and suggested she often stretches the truth.

But the ex-governor didn’t get the bounce he was hoping for out of the straw poll, which drew 16,000 Iowa activists.

Mr. Pawlenty received 2,293 voters, while Mrs. Bachmann won with 4,823 votes and Texas Rep. Paul finished a close second with 4,671 votes.   

Speaking with reporters before the final tally was read, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2007 straw poll, portended Mr. Pawlenty’s demise.

“Whoever of the two Minnesotans who come out on top, they come out on the shoulders of their teammates; the other one might go out on a gurney,” he said.