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We speculated yesterday that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty could be the first of the 2012 White House hopefuls to abandon his candidacy, now that the campaign's halycon early days have given way to riding around Ames, Iowa in an RV, trying to get his name out there in a state where he's already spent $437,000 advertising. In a new National Review article posted today, Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant didn't do much to alleviate our sinking feeling when asked about the campaign's goals heading into August's pivotal Ames Straw Poll. Said Conant, "We want to show progress in Ames, [do] better than sixth or seventh."

He was probably just trying to manage expectations, but sixth or seventh? Say fourth. Or fifth! Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman aren't even going to be there. Pawlenty may not be able to beat Michele Bachmann, but surely he can out-perform Rick Santorum and the mere suggestion of Rick Perry.

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