Maybe he looked too much like Tim Geithner to make it in the biz. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Nick Ayers, the Pawlenty campaign manager, probably said it best: “We were a tortoise — not a camel. Campaign camels can go a long time without water. Tortoises can’t.”

This metaphor makes about as much sense as the Pawlenty campaign. If you are worrying whether you are a tortoise or a camel — both slow-moving, land-based animals with limited ability to yell — you’re in the wrong race. Slow and steady might win the race, but fast and unsteady beats slow and steady in the Ames Straw Poll every time.

Pawlenty’s metaphors were always a bit off — what’s that about manure-spreaders in wind storms? And why are you so eager to cook us dinner? And that Google test — if you can find it on Google, the Government doesn’t need to do it? — was beyond ridiculous.

So now T-Paw is gone, leaving only a pile of confused metaphors and a bit of a dust-up with Bachmann in his wake. All five of the dedicated Pawlenty voters are now in high demand, receiving calls from all corners.

But it’s hard to miss Pawlenty when you didn’t notice him in the first place.

It's that awkward moment on the field trip when you suspect that someone is missing and realize you don’t know who. “I think we’ve lost someone,” you say, counting heads. “Herman’s still here. There’s Michele. Wasn’t there another guy?” “Newt?” “No, he’s still there,” everyone says. “Inexplicably.”

You could tell TPaw was flagging because I actually thought his debate performance was okay. That’s never a good sign.

The Minnesota Smackdown™ of the Thursday debate had a clear winner: Bachmann. It wasn't that TPaw was problematically yelly (he might have been) or that he wasn't yelly enough (he definitely fell somewhere along that diapason). It was that the exchange made it look as though he were running against Bachmann. Phrased like that, he didn’t stand a chance. He has a spine made of normal biological spine components.

Leaving aside the original debate flub of Obamneycare (another of those classic awkward T-Paw coinages), the closest he came to taking down Romney was telling him that he would only mow up to 1 acre of his lawn. Ouch! That's got to sting.

This wasn't a good race for tortoises.

This year, we’re out of jobs. We’re out of money. And people have been talking to us about the debt ceiling for far longer than we think advisable or healthy. If there is one criterion we have for a candidate this year, it’s “yelly.” When Pawlenty tried to yell, it was like your mild-mannered biology teacher trying to “get real” and discipline you.

And Pawlenty understood. "What I brought forward, I thought, was a rational, established, credible, strong record of results, based on experience governing — a two-term governor of a blue state,” Pawlenty told ABC’s “This Week.” “But I think the audience, so to speak, was looking for something different.”

If a late-breaking remark by Rick Perry doesn't suddenly declare candidacy for Understatement of the Year, I think this one will take it.

"Something different." That's definitely the GOP 2012 field, especially now that Understatement of the Year Tim Pawlenty is gone.