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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

What if Tim Pawlenty had learned a lesson from Marco Rubio or "Bluto" Blutarsky?



What goes through the mind of Tim Pawlenty these days?

The former Minnesota governor had a strong case to be the most viable and realistic alternative to Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination. But out of money and optimism, Pawlenty gave up and ended his campaign after a disappointing third place finish in Iowa’s Ames straw poll in August behind Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul.

Quite a few prominent Florida Republicans wished he stayed in, arguing Pawlenty’s considerable network of Sunshine State supporterstim-pawlenty.jpg could have helped him win Florida’s Presidency 5 straw poll in September that instead catapulted Herman Cain to the top tier.

They were probably right. Just a quick review of recent Republican contests - notably in Florida - makes clear what should by now be a axiom for struggling GOP contenders: To borrow a mythical quote attributed to Winston Churchill, Never, never, never give up.

Four years ago at this point, John McCain was wandering through airports lugging his own bags, widely written off as a dead man walking. In the summer of 2009, Marco Rubio was seriously considering giving up his supposedly hopeless Republican senate primary campaign against Charlie Crist.

Nothing underscores the point better than this year’s Republican presidential primary. Herman Cain as a frontrunner? Almost nobody saw that a few months ago. Newt Gingrich looked more like a punch line than a contender early this summer amid mass staff exoduses and the Tiffany line of credit. Now, he’s a frontrunner.

The landscape shifts dramatically almost every other week. Meanwhile Tim Pawlenty is on the sidelines, serving as a cheerleader for Romney, who still can’t seem to seal the deal.

[Last modified: Friday, November 18, 2011 1:38pm]


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