Tim Pawlenty leaves Mitt Romney campaign to head financial lobbying group

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has stepped down as co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to become chief executive of the Financial Services Roundtable, a major Wall Street lobbying group.

Pawlenty joined the Romney campaign in September 2011 after abandoning his own White House bid, following a poor showing in the Iowa straw poll a month earlier. He was considered a possible running mate for Romney before the GOP nominee tapped Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Pawlenty will not step into his new role until Nov. 1, but he left the Romney campaign immediately because the Financial Services Roundtable is a bipartisan organization.

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“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,” Romney said of Pawlenty in a statement. “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.”

The Financial Services Roundtable represents about 100 major banking, insurance and investment companies that manage a total of $92.7 trillion in assets, according to the group.

“Few industries have more impact on the entire economy—and on the lives of average Americans—than financial services,” Pawlenty said in a statement released by the Financial Services Roundtable. “I realize there is still work to be done to continue to earn customers’ confidence.”

In a separate statement issued by the Romney campaign, Pawlenty said, “My work with Mitt has been a privilege. Mitt Romney is a truly good man and great leader. As the campaign moves into the home stretch, he has my full support and continued faith in his vision and his policies.”

Pawlenty left the presidential race last year with $435,000 of debt, but Romney helped to pay it off, making a maximum contribution of $2,500 and bundling a total of $66,000 from his family, staff and supporters, according to Politico.