Tim Pawlenty bows out of presidential race after disappointing Iowa straw poll

Tim Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who just weeks ago denounced gay marriage by saying it “defies common sense,” has abandoned his campaign for the presidency.

Tim Pawlenty

Following a disappointing finish in the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa on Saturday, Pawlenty told his staff on a conference call Sunday morning that, “We needed a boost from Ames that didn’t happen.”

“We needed to get some lift to continue on and have a pathway forward,” Pawlenty said this morning in an exclusive interview on “This Week.” “That didn’t happen, so I’m announcing this morning on your show that I’m going to be ending my campaign for president.

“I’m very, very grateful for the people of Iowa,” Pawlenty added. “I wish it would have been different, but obviously the pathway forward for me doesn’t really exist, so we’re going to end the campaign.”

Pawlenty finished a distant third in the poll with 14 percent of the vote, behind Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (28 percent) and Texas Rep. Ron Paul (27 percent).

Watch ABC’s interview with Pawlenty here:

The Ames Straw Poll’s results are non-binding and have no official effect on the presidential primaries, but is often seen as a first test of organizational strength in Iowa by the news media and party insiders.

Recently, Pawlenty said “there’s no scientific conclusion that [being gay] is genetic,” and that he does not support allowing gay couples “to have the same benefits and public employment as traditional couples.”

Last May, while still governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty vetoed a bill that sought to enable the surviving partner in a same-sex relationship to determine what to do with the remains of his or her deceased partner.

On Friday, during a campaign appearance in Iowa, an openly gay high school student from Minnesota challenged Pawlenty on his positions against marriage equality and LGBT rights.

Gabe Aderhold, 17, a senior at Edina High School in Edina, Minn., told Pawlenty, “You are discriminating against me and it hurts.”

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