Romney Backers, Fellow Republicans Help Tim Pawlenty Retire Campaign Debt

(Image Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

With some help, Tim Pawlenty is out of debt.

The former Minnesota governor officially closed his 2012 presidential campaign Tuesday, nearly eight months after dropping out of the race in August. Pawlenty reported his campaign being almost $454,000 in debt a month and a half after his exit, with about $20,000 in the bank.

Pawlenty has now paid it off, with the assistance of Mitt Romney's supporters, fellow Republican politicians and his own former staffers.

Pawlenty exited the race Aug. 14 and endorsed Romney Sept. 12.

"H e has a background which is unmatched; his understanding of the private sector proves he knows how jobs are created which will be critical in turning our economy around," Pawlenty said. "I am proud to endorse his candidacy for president of the United States."

Pawlenty had coined the term "Obamneycare" three months earlier to illustrate similarities between the Massachusetts health law signed by then-Gov. Romney and the national health law ushered in by President Obama.

Romney's fundraisers, aides, family members, and employees of Bain Capital donated a total of $330,000 to Pawlenty after his exit from the race, USA Today reported today.

Among those donors were Romney himself and 13 members of his family, including his wife, Ann, his five sons and their spouses. Romney family members donated a total of $32,500 to help retire Pawlenty's debt, each giving the maximum-allowed $2,500 for a primary campaign.

Pawlenty paid off $45,000 of that debt by selling his database of supporter contacts to American Action Network, the GOP 501(c)4 political group run by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman and GOP fundraiser and strategist Fred Malek.

Pawlenty, 51, also received donations from the PACs affiliated with former 2012 rival and fellow Minnesotan Rep. Michele Bachmann, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California; Rep. Mike Castle's, R-Del., re-election campaign; and former eBay CEO and 2010 GOP California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

He received a total of $2,450 from three of his former staffers: campaign communications director Alex Conant, former gubernatorial chief of staff Charles Weaver and former gubernatorial deputy chief of staff Brian McClung.

"It was truly an honor to run for president of the United States," Pawlenty said Tuesday of his officially concluded campaign in a written statement. "Mary and I will be forever grateful to the many supporters who inspired and sustained the campaign.  I am also glad we were able to pay all campaign debts and wind down the campaign properly," Pawlenty said Tuesday of his officially concluded campaign, in a written statement issued to press.