Vin Weber, a veteran of multiple presidential campaigns and a former top advisor to Tim Pawlenty's campaign, said the former Minnesota governor's quick departure from the presidential race was a surprise.
"I was surprised how quickly he left...I was not a part of that decision," Weber said during a talk at the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.
Pawlenty dropped out of the race the day after he came in a poor third in an Iowa straw poll on August 13, saying he was eager for the race ahead. The very next morning Pawlenty dropped out.
Weber said Pawlenty's plan was to be "a click to the right" of Romney, who was thought to be the clear front runner. That strategy could have paid off over time.
"The electability argument would have become a little more salient closer to actual voting," Weber said of Pawlenty. Weber, who is now, like Pawlenty, a backer of Mitt Romney, makes a similar argument about Romney. Romney is now polling second to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
That strategy did not encompass the entry of Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, the surge of Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in Iowa or the entry of Perry, all of whom could easily be perceived as to the right of Pawlenty.
Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll that spelled Pawlenty's doom. Paul came in a very close second and Perry entered the race that very August day the straw poll was taken.
Once it was clear that the candidates would be further to the right than Romney, Pawlenty had to move with them, Weber said.
On the issue of third party candidates, Weber said it is possible New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could run as an independent, if the conditions are right. He also pondered the possibility that Ron Paul could run as a Libertarian.