SIOUX CITY, Iowa– Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann will join the other Republican presidential hopefuls tonight for the final debate prior to the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. Many political observers say if Bachmann’s showing in the caucuses mirrors her distant position in most polls she will have little choice but to end her campaign for president.
Aboard her campaign bus Thursday afternoon, Bachmann said she expects the Sioux City debate to be “vigorous.”
“There’s no question because this will be the last televised debate before we have the all-important Iowa caucuses, and I look forward to it,” she said. “I love the debates. I think I’ve proven myself very well in the debates. People can see that I am the best candidate to go toe-to-toe with Barack Obama and defeat him in 2012. And I think that’s what we’ll show tonight too.”
Bachmann announced her entrance into the race during a debate in mid-June in New Hampshire. She formally launched her campaign in Iowa from her Waterloo birthplace. Bachmann moved to Minnesota as a young girl, but has emphasized her Iowa roots as she’s sought support in the Hawkeye State.
Bachmann surprised many by winning the Ames Straw Poll in mid-August. For a brief time she was statistically tied in a Des Moines Register Iowa Poll with then front-runner Mitt Romney, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s entrance into GOP presidential nomination battle and her misstep on vaccines dealt Bachmann a blow from which she has not been able to recover, despite relatively strong debate performances and an aggressive Iowa campaign schedule.
Still, Bachmann is expressing optimism about her prospects in the caucuses, confidently predicting that Iowans will “come home” to her on Jan.3.
“We’re moving up. That’s really what you want when you’re at this stage of the game,” she said. “We think we’re positioned perfectly to land exactly where we need to be on Jan. 3. Because what people are looking at right now is who will be the consistent champion, the consistent conservative, who is the proven voice? And as people are looking at the candidates, they’re looking at Newt-Romney and they’re seeing very clearly that these are the voices not of conservative champions. And so now we’re getting a second look, and we think we’re going to be exactly where we need to be to win.”
On Friday morning Bachmann will launch a bus tour of all 99 Iowa counties in an attempt to rally support. Day one of her trip will include several stops in northwestern Iowa, one of the most conservative parts of the state.
Tonight’s debate will be broadcast live on Fox News at 8:00 CST.