The AP reports:

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he might have stayed in the Republican presidential race longer had he known it would be this volatile.

Pawlenty reflected on his decision to drop out after his official state portrait was unveiled Monday night. He left the race in August after finishing third in the Iowa GOP's straw poll in which he says he invested heavily.

Pawlenty says he would have persisted in the race "if I would have known then what I know now." He says his campaign was in debt and lacked, in his words, "additional chips to see the next card in the hand."

The Pawlenty campaign's strategy of betting so much on the Iowa straw poll was certainly a mistake. Pawlenty never had a chance of winning a straw poll dominated by conservative activists. The importance of the poll seems to be minimal at best, as its winner, Michele Bachmann, is now polling in the low single digits. The Iowa straw poll's fifth place finisher, Herman Cain, is now running neck-and neck with Romney in Iowa and national polls.

The whole premise of a Pawlenty candidacy was that he would be a generic conservative Republican "consensus candidate." If Republican voters were ever going to rally behind the consensus candidate, it probably would have been late in the game.

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