The man who fled the Republican primary race because Michele Bachmann was suddenly winning has left the Romney campaign in the middle of an already bad week: Tim Pawlenty will step down as Mitt Romney's national co-chair to become CEO at one of Wall Street's major lobbying groups.
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The Financial Services Roundtable announced Thursday that the former Minnesota governor would be taking over for retiring chief Steve Bartlett: "He is exactly the kind of leader we need to continue to improve our industry’s reputation, advocate firm-but-fair regulation and help maintain our global leadership of the financial markets." So goes their statement, which of course leaves out things like Pawlenty's habit of quitting early, quitting when things get tough, and that Pawlenty has a track record of flipping on bank bailouts.
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Pawlenty had been acting as a surrogate for the Romney campaign since just after he dropped his own presidential run last August, and claimed "I'm not disappointed" when he was overlooked in favor Paul Ryan for vice-president. As for Pawlenty's new job, the Financial Services Roundtable, as The Hill's Ian Swanson reports, "represents 100 integrated financial services companies providing banking, insurance and investment products and services to the American consumer." He adds, "It was a major player during the debate over the financial reform legislation, and its top position was seen as one of the best jobs in Washington, partly because of a salary that could run as high as $1.8 million." Putting that $1.8 million in perspective, Financial Services Roundtable spent almost four times that amount lobbying in 2011 and about two-times that amount already in 2012--a lot of which likely went to, as the Wall Street Journal reports, the undoing of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul. And the job is apparently sexy, or something. "I think this is the sexiest CEO job going around in the association space ... If a CEO job for an association can be sexy, this is it," an expert at an executive search firm told The Hill. Pawlenty starts November 1.