US Republican Tim Pawlenty drops bid for 2012 race

Tim Pawlenty - 19 February 2010 file photo Tim Pawlenty spent much of his time and campaign funds trying to win support in Iowa

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Tim Pawlenty has announced he is dropping his bid to become the Republican Party's candidate in the 2012 presidential election.

The Minnesota ex-governor finished a distant third in the Iowa straw poll, an early test of strength for candidates vying to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama.

"The pathway forward for me doesn't exist," Mr Pawlenty told ABC TV.

Michele Bachmann, a Congresswoman from Minnesota, won the non-binding poll.

Ron Paul, a Texas Congressman, finished a close second.

Languishing in polls

Mr Pawlenty said: "I thought I would have made a great president, but obviously that pathway isn't there. I do believe we're going to have a very good candidate who is going to beat Barack Obama."

Analysis

In the end it may not have been the message, but the messenger.

Republican candidates are all preaching lower taxes and small government but in a field full of relative unknowns, Tim Pawlenty failed to stand out from the crowd.

Mr Pawlenty staked everything on Iowa, betting that spending big there would bring votes and, consequently, media attention, campaign donations and staying power (in that order).

The arrival of Texas Governor Rick Perry into the race - a heavyweight candidate who may prove a fundraising magnet - also made the survival of Tim Pawlenty much harder.

Yet, in Iowa, Mr Pawlenty came third out of eight. What must Jon Huntsman and Thaddeus McCotter (seventh and last respectively) be thinking now?

It may not be long before the Republican field thins into a race between four or five big-hitters.

Mr Pawlenty had spent about two years preparing his campaign and building funds. He poured much of that money into Iowa before Saturday's vote but languished in opinion polls after Mrs Bachmann entered the race.

About 17,000 voters took part in the straw poll, in what is considered the first big test of the 2012 presidential race.

It comes five months before the first official Iowa primaries in the race for the White House.

Mrs Bachmann won 4,823 votes in the straw poll, more than twice as many as Mr Pawlenty.

He has not endorsed a candidate but Mrs Bachmann was quick to praise him.

"I wish him well," she said. "He brought a really important voice into the race and I am grateful that he was in. He was really a very good competitor."

National front-runner Mitt Romney did not actively take part in the Iowa contest and neither did Texas Governor Rick Perry, who announced his candidacy on Saturday.

Mr Perry's candidacy means he and Mrs Bachmann will fight for the votes of the more conservative wing of the Republican Party while Mitt Romney works to fire up a base that so far has seemed unimpressed with his campaigning style, says the BBC's Jonny Dymond from Ames.

Sarah Palin, a favourite of the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement and Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008, has not declared her candidacy but has said she has not ruled out running.

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