Last night, I reported that a third-party group in Iowa, Strong America Now, had decided to distance itself from the Tim Pawlenty campaign. I spoke this morning with Katie Sibley, a spokeswoman for Strong America Now. Sibley explained that when press accounts reported that its vendor, Campaign Headquarters, is also heading the Pawlenty Ames effort, Strong America Now “pulled responsibilities” back from its vendor. Strong America Now’s executive director will now directly handle Strong America Now’s activities in Ames, including bus arrangements for the straw poll attendees. She stressed, “We appreciate the support” that Pawlenty and other candidates have shown in signing the Strong America Now pledge, “but we are independent of all campaigns and that is so important to us.” That pledge, signed by six candidates, says that the candidates will promise to “eliminate the deficit by waste elimination and cost-effective government using the proven Lean Six Sigma method currently being implemented by the Department of Defense, local governments and businesses. Drive Unemployment Below Five Percent through a 50 percent tax reduction on small businesses and no taxes placed on newly created businesses for five years.” (The details of “Lean Six Sigma” are available on its Web site.)

It remains to be seen how this may affect Pawlenty’s efforts in Ames. As his campaign described it, the Pawlenty team is going all out to finish strong. If he doesn’t, his campaign may not survive as donors, the media and the voters conclude he’s just not a viable contender.