(Jeff Wheeler / Star Tribune…)
After watching the ups and downs of the Republican presidential campaign from the sidelines since mid-August, Tim Pawlenty voiced second thoughts Monday about his decision to pull out of the race after a third place showing at the Ames straw poll.
Speaking at the unveiling of his official portrait commemorating his time as governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty said it was “the wrong call” to invest so heavily in the Iowa straw poll, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Pawlenty placed far behind Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Rep. Ron Paul in the Ames contest. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who had just entered the race at the time, had surged quickly to the head of the pack.
But a lot has happened since then. Bachmann and Perry have fallen behind while Herman Cain's fortunes appear to be on the rise. At least for now.
Pawlenty said Monday that he wished he could have afforded to stay in the race a bit longer.
He raised $4.3 million in the first fundraising quarter of the campaign and focused his resources on organizing a strong showing in Iowa. When he came up short after Ames, he threw in the towel.
Pawlenty said he learned after he quit that the campaign was actually in debt. “We were out of money,” he said.
“We made some decisions that I think with the benefit of hindsight I would have done differently,” he said Monday, according to Minnesota Public Radio. “I think if we had it to do over again, we would have probably metered out our resources lighter earlier so we could have made them last longer. Instead, we went for a more dramatic piece of progress in that early Iowa contest, and I think we should have made a different decision.”
Pawlenty has kept a low profile since he dropped out of the race. He endorsed former rival Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential race last month, declaring that Romney “possesses the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament.”