After a disappointing third-place showing in Iowa's Ames Straw Poll yesterday, Tim Pawlenty has announced that he's bowing out of the presidential race. "There are a lot of other choices in the race," he said on on ABC's This Week this morning. "The audience, so to speak, was looking for something different." Which, well, was never much of a secret to anyone, least of all him. Yet on his way out, the Vanilla Thrilla employed some of that Minnesota Nice when commenting on the candidate that the Republican primary audience does seem to want, the electric Michele Bachmann, who came out on top: "I think she's qualified. She's going to have to make her case." Pawlenty, the first major Republican to drop out thus far, was also the first to declare his candidacy for 2012. And since the former Minnesota governor maintains that running as a vice-presidential candidate is "something I'm not going to consider," this might be the last we see of him until 2016. [Caucus/NYT]
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