Tim Pawlenty quit as co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign on Thursday to become one of Wall Street's top lobbyists in Washington. Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota, will lead the Financial Services Roundtable.
The move came with Romney's campaign struggling to find its stride with just seven weeks left before Election Day. Polls show the former Massachusetts governor running neck and neck with President Barack Obama in a contest both sides predict will be very close. But Romney's campaign has been grappling with a video showing him seemingly writing off Obama supporters as having a "victim" mindset and being reliant on government handouts. And Republicans outside the campaign have been grumbling that the campaign needs a shot in the arm.
"It is an honor to call Mitt and Ann my friends," Pawlenty said in a written statement released by the Romney campaign. "As the campaign moves into the home stretch, he has my full support and continued faith in his vision and his policies."
"Tim Pawlenty is a dear friend," Romney said in the same statement. "He's brought energy, intelligence and tireless dedication to every enterprise in which he's ever been engaged, and that certainly includes my presidential campaign.
"While I regret he cannot continue as co-chair of my campaign, his new position advancing the integrity of our financial system is vital to the future of our country," Romney said. "I congratulate him."
Romney passed over Pawlenty in his search for a vice presidential candidate, eventually settling on Congressman Paul Ryan. Pawlenty had been discussed as a possible running mate for Sen. John McCain in 2008, but the veteran lawmaker picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin instead.