Ames: The end for Pawlenty?

Conant said that predictions that Pawlenty needs a first- or second-place finish were off the mark: “If the people ahead of us are not viewed as likely or credible nominees that’s less of a hurdle. I think these things are very hard to predict.”…

“If he wants to be the alternative to Romney, he has to win” the straw poll, said former Iowa House Speaker Christopher Rants, who’s advising Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s long-shot run.

“If he gets beat by Bachmann, how does he get more financing, since he’s now broke?” Rants asked of Pawlenty. “If he gets beat by Paul, how does he claim relevancy?”

Steve Deace, the Iowa talk radio host who helped boost Mike Huckabee’s underdog 2008 campaign, put it bluntly: “If you look at the time, treasure and talent he has invested, it’s hard for him to justify why he’s still here if he doesn’t win the Iowa straw poll.”