And so it's the end of the line for the man they called the Minnesota Meh. No great surprise, right?
A couple of quick points:
It's wrong to say that he dropped out because of Ames. Instead, it's more the case that Ames went badly for him because everything else was going badly -- he reportedly sunk most of his available resources into the Straw Poll, but the truth is he didn't have very many resources remaining. If nevertheless it turned out that his diminished resources could buy Straw Poll success, he'd have something to sell to Republican party actors, but that didn't turn out to be the case.
This also puts Pawlenty's debate strategy the other night in a new context. It made sense as a last-ditch nomination strategy anyway, but it really made sense for someone who wanted to show that he had the fire necessary for a Vice-Presidential debate without wanting to alienate the guy who might be selecting a running mate. Was that part of a deliberate strategy? Obviously I have no idea, and it's not as if no one has ever been picked for the ticket after vicious attacks against the nominee, but I suspect that it was at least a possible factor. Not that I think he'll get that particular nod.
I was trying last night to figure out a way of talking about Pawlenty within the framework of plausible nominees that I have been using. I think what I should have said is that he was a plausible nominee who wasn't visibly doing anything to get him closer to winning. At any rate, that's a moot point now. My old list of plausible nominees was Pawlenty, Romney, Perry, Jeb Bush, and Palin...I suppose I'd say that I wouldn't exactly change that, but I see absolutely no sign that Bush is going to get into the race, any just about no sign that Palin is doing anything that she would need to do to become the nominee. I've said from the start that my "plausible" group had well over a 90% chance of winning the nomination, and realistically we're now talking about two people. Winnowing!