On the heels of her Ames Straw Poll victory Rep. Michele Bachmann darted to her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa on Sunday to take the stage at a Black Hawk County Republican event featuring the newest GOP presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Bachmann and Perry were never on stage at the same time. She spoke after Perry, starting off by waving a copy of the Sunday Waterloo Courier newspaper featuring a big picture of her on the front page along with the story about her success in Ames.
Bachmann continued to play up her Iowa roots at the Republican fundraiser where she attacked President Barack Obama and sounded alarms about what she calls “out of control government spending”.
In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio News Sunday afternoon in Waterloo, Bachmann said she spoke with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty after he ended his presidential campaign. Fighting between Pawlenty and Bachmann dominated news coverage of last week’s debate.
But Bachmann said their latest interaction was cordial.
“We had a very lovely conversation and I wished him well and he did likewise and he was very complimentary of me, as I was of him,” said Bachmann.
Bachmann also talked about moving forward with her campaign in a changed field where Pawlenty is no longer a competitor and she has new competition from Gov. Perry. Both Perry and Bachmann appeal to the tea party and social conservative wings of the GOP.
“I’ll be continuing to conduct this campaign the same that I have, bringing this message forward one voter at a time, one county at a time, one state at a time,” said Bachmann.
Apart from an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Pawlenty did not grant media interviews about his decision to get out of the race. A former staffer said Pawlenty would not be doing any more interviews this week. On ABC, Pawlenty said his third place finish in Ames made it clear to him that his campaign just wasn’t working out.
“What I brought forward I thought was a rational, established, credible, strong record of results based on experience as a two-term governor who was out of a blue state,” said Pawlenty. “But I think the audience, so to speak, was looking for something different,” Pawlenty told ABC.
Prior to the television appearance Pawlenty brought key supporters together for an early Sunday morning telephone conference call to let them know he was done. Manchester, NH area Republican leader Clifford Hurst who was a member of Pawlenty’s New Hampshire steering committee said the announcement came as a surprise and that he was already thinking about how the campaign could regroup following the Ames disappointment.
“In fact I had just you know been thinking about what happened in Iowa and I was ready to make an even deeper commitment to the governor and work harder and try be more effective in getting good results here in New Hampshire,” said Hurst.
Drake University Political Science Professor Dennis Goldford said one of Pawlenty’s problems is that he tried to appeal to too many factions of the GOP.
“At first he seemed to try to come across as a mainstream establishment candidate that was more conservative than Mitt Romney,” said Goldford. “Since January or February of this year he started emphasizing themes that were much more in line with the tea party and religious conservatives, he sounded more of those populist themes,” said Drake and that when competing with Bachmann with a populist message didn’t work, Pawlenty circled back to his establishment candidate tack.
With Pawlenty out, Minnesota now has just on presidential candidate, but the field of Republicans vying for President Obama’s job looks a lot different now that Gov. Perry’s in the mix. Look for Bachmann to try to build on her Iowa victory and do whatever she can to keep supporters behind her even though Perry might look like an attractive option.
(MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik)