Pawlenty leaving Romney campaign

However, Pawlenty was a strong critic of Romney during the primaries last year, at one point dubbing the similarities between the Romney and Obama health care plans, "Obamneycare." In this photo, Pawlenty is seen speaking during a rally for Romney on Feb. 1, 2012, in Eagan, Minn.
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Stephen Maturen

(CBS News) Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has accepted the role of president and chief executive officer of the Financial Services Roundtable, a Washington, D.C. lobbying group for the banking industry.

In a statement accepting his new role, Pawlenty wrote that he would have to leave his perch on the Romney campaign. "My time in public service was rewarding and focused on achieving results," Pawlenty said. "I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve, but I am now moving on and committed to focusing fully on this new opportunity."

Romney, in turn, issued a press release calling Pawlenty a "dear friend" and wishing him luck on the endeavor. "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."

When Romney geared up his presidential campaign in 2011, he said that the primary opponent he feared the most was Pawlenty. Both known for their intellectual and mild mannered approach on the stump, Pawlenty stood apart from Romney because of his background - he hailed from scrappy blue collar roots. His father drove a milk truck and his mother passed away when he was 16; Pawlenty went on to become the first member of his family to get an education beyond high school.

The two sparred a little on the stump, notably in May 2011, when Pawlenty coined the term "Obamneycare" on Fox News Sunday, likening Romney's healthcare law in Massachusetts to President Obama's Affordable Care Act. The term took off, but Pawlenty immediately shied away from it, refusing to use the term again in a debate days later with Romney steps away from him on stage.

Pawlenty bowed out of the race after the Iowa Straw Poll last August. He endorsed Romney and joined his campaign as national co-chair shortly thereafter, on September 12, 2011, in Charleston, S.C. He was the first former presidential candidate of this cycle to come on board with Romney, and he fastiduously campaigned for him all over the country, opening Romney's first campaign office in Nevada, attending Christmas dinners in New Hampshire, and appearing on myriads of Sunday shows when the candidate himself wasn't in the chair. He was ever-present during the early primaries earlier this year, dutifully revving up crowds that Romney really needed in order to shore up votes in those states.

His wife, Mary, also came out on the trail to lend a hand in Eagan, Minn., before their primary. "I really want to encourage the woman of Minnesota to have their voice heard," she said. "As women we know whats best for our families." This appeal to women was new - and one that Ann Romney would follow assiduously in suit.

His endorsement and tireless activity came well before other notable supporters like Sens. Marco Rubio and Rob Portman or Rep. Paul Ryan, and his name was endlessly thrown out as a vice presidential possibility.

Pawlenty's new role takes effect November 1, five days before the election.

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