Tim Pawlenty became the first Republican candidate to drop out of the 2012 presidential race. He announced his decision yesterday in Iowa, where all the mild-mannered magic began.
As you probably know, it was the widely held belief on The Last Word that T-Paw would ultimately bag the nomination. Despite all his talk of "Google tests" and lame attempts to appear "hip" by quoting Lady Gaga songs, he was the only candidate who didn't seem to have a fatal flaw. He came off as the nice guy.
But, his low-key vibe never gained traction with the current GOP field, which is veering further to the right.
Last Word host Lawrence O'Donnell issued this statement on Pawlenty's early withdrawal:
"Tim Pawlenty won the rational vote in Iowa on Saturday. But this is the year that the irrational vote is controlling Republican politics in Washington and on the campaign trail. When I picked Pawlenty as the best bet for the nomination, I made the mistake of thinking Republican primary voters would do what they have always done and calmly choose the safest candidate on their ballots to send into a general election. Like all candidates, Pawlenty had weaknesses but the candidates who beat him are defined entirely by their weaknesses. There is a clear defect in all the other Republican candidates that would prevent them from winning the nomination in a rational Republican party, but one of them is going to be the nominee. Pawlenty's problem turned out to be, despite all his right wing pandering, he just wasn't crazy enough. The party that nominated cautious campaigners like the first and second Bush, Bob Dole and John McCain has decided to go in an irrational direction. And I can't predict the irrational."
It's not clear who will fill the void of those slicked out campaign ads.