Tim Pawlenty out

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Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is leaving the race for the Republican presidential nomination, after finishing third in the Iowa straw poll. I’m a little surprised, but I guess after the enormous work he put into doing well in Iowa, it’s all-but-impossible for him to make the case to donors that he continues to have a practical shot at winning the nomination. I think it’s a pity, because I think that Pawlenty had the best fundamentals of any declared candidate, in terms of record and substance—at least until yesterday when Perry entered the race.

One wonders why he didn’t strip down his campaign, a la John McCain in 2007/08, and just hang in there, participating in debates and such and waiting for an opening. Perhaps his lack of willingness to do that indicates a lack of desire at a more basic level; or, more kindly, perhaps he doesn’t want to be a spoiler. The field will be poorer for his absence. Republicans have to make the right choice this time. It’s a shame to see one of the most substantively excellent candidates drop off so soon. It’s a tough game.