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Pawlenty quits GOP race after 3rd-place finish in Iowa

DES MOINES — Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota dropped out of the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination Sunday, hours after a disappointing third place finish in an Iowa straw poll.

Pawlenty said the straw poll showed that his message of experience as a conservative two-term governor in a Democratic state wasn’t winning over fellow Republicans in Iowa, the state that launches the voting for a nominee next winter.

“Obviously that message didn't get the kind of traction or lift that we needed and hoped for coming into the and out of the Ames straw poll. We needed to get some lift to continue on and to have a pathway forward. That didn't happen,” Pawlenty said on ABC’s This Week program.

“So I'm announcing this morning on your show that I'm going to be ending my campaign for president.”

Pawlenty, who finished a distant third in the straw poll behind Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, said his finish would make it hard — if not impossible — to convince donors to keep contributing to his campaign.

“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.”

Often criticized as boring, particularly when up against the charismatic Bachmann, Pawlenty said only that his pitch fell flat.

“What I brought forward I thought was a rational, established, credible, strong record of results, based on experience governing, a two-term governor of a blue state,” he said. “But I think the audience, so to speak, was looking for something different.”

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