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Editorial: What's next, T-Paw?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announces an $86 million plan to add jobs in the renewable, solar and similar industries Monday at the Capitol. He later flew around the state to promote the proposal.

Tim Pawlenty's decision to abandon his presidential bid was surprising, and it can't help but make you wonder about Republican presidential politics in general.

Pawlenty made not have had the strongest of showings in Saturday's Iowa straw poll -- he finished third with just 13.6 percent of the vote -- but the poll was non-binding. Pawlenty seemed to recognize that, try as he might, he was never going to come across as the hard-core conservative that apparently seems destined to head the GOP's nomination throne.

So, what might be the former Minnesota governor's next move? Only Pawlenty knows, but we can almost guarantee he's not going to vanish from the political arena anytime soon.

Last week, Pawlenty said he was not interested in competing against DFLer Amy Klobuchar in 2012 for her U.S. Senate seat. That statement should now be taken with the smallest grain of salt, considering Pawlenty issued a statement just hours before his presidential race exit that indicated his intent to remain in the White House hunt.

A Pawlenty-Klobuchar matchup is one that would certainly gather considerable national attention, especially given the stakes of that body's political control. Pawlenty could also wait and take on Al Franken in 2014 -- or he could be in a president's cabinet should Barack Obama not be re-elected.

No matter what Pawlenty decides, we think it's safe to say that his ambition is too large for simply remaining an ex-governor.