The end of Tim Pawlenty’s campaign ended up being anticlimactic, given his utter and complete inability to gain any kind of traction whatsoever. He couldn’t present himself as a viable alternative to Mitt Romney, he got into a bizarre name-calling contest with Michele Bachmann in the last GOP Presidential debate (allowing Romney to once again float above the fray), and now, with the entry of Rick Perry in the race, Pawlenty would have been marginalized still further if he decided to stay in the race. Then there was his campaign persona of acting like, well, a big dork; the kind who could have been bullied in high school by even the likes of me. Add to all of this his campaign’s incomprehensible decision to make “Ames Straw Poll, Or Bust!” the cornerstone of his strategy, and you have a Presidential campaign whose end resembles something of a mercy killing.
Despite the fact that Rick Perry dominated the headlines this weekend, and that Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll (for a given value of “win”), I have to think that in some ways, the big winner this weekend may prove to have been Romney. Perry’s entry into the race means that the Tea Party vote will be split between him and Bachmann, and if Sarah Palin enters the race–and Romney has to be hoping and praying that she does–the vote will be split three ways. But even if Palin does not enter, the presence of two competing Tea Party candidates might be enough to offer Romney a clearer path to the nomination.