Dear Tim Pawlenty,
Chin up! You gave it your best shot and you have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not your fault that you’re too boring to be a presidential contender. It’s who you are, and you can’t escape it.
And besides, despite being the very first person to drop out of the 2012 presidential race, people are already talking about you running for Senate in Minnesota, where your boringness is an asset. Recent history, in fact, is littered with examples of FDOs (first dropouts) who overcame their ill-fated campaigns to achieve success in other areas of government service.
Tom Vilsack was the Democratic Party’s FDO in the 2008 race, yet he was appointed as Secretary of Agriculture by President Obama not long after. Lamar Alexander, the first Republican to withdraw from the 2000 race after a poor showing at the Ames Straw Poll (just like you!) won a Senate race in Tennessee in 2002 and remains in that seat today. Douglas Wilder, the first Democrat to bow out in 1992, took about a decade-long break from politics after his governorship of Virginia ended in 1994, then successfully ran for mayor of Richmond, Virginia, in 2004.
Maybe you’re tired of the public office, though. In that case, you can go the route of Bob Graham, the 2004 Democratic FDO, who has largely spent his time in academia, or James Gilmore, the GOP’s 2008 FDO who now runs a think tank. Or you can follow in the footsteps of Pete Wilson, the GOP’s 1996 FDO, who went on to serve on the boards of more companies and foundations than you could shake a stick of fried butter at.
The point is, while you won’t be president anytime soon (or let’s be real, ever), being the first candidate to withdraw from the presidential race doesn’t mean you’ll spend the rest of your life carrying around the taint of a horrible, embarrassing presidential candidacy. People will still respect you, elect you, and ask for your advice. You can still go on to do great things. Not as great as being president, of course.
P.S. Now that you’re no longer running for president, bring back the mullet.