The Big Story Blog

The Big Story Blog: January 1, 2012 Archive

Iowa: Bachmann pledges to stay in race after caucuses

Posted at 9:31 AM on January 1, 2012 by Emily Kaiser
Filed under: Iowa

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Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann came in last in Saturday night's Des Moines Register poll, but the GOP presidential candidate told her supporters yesterday that she's poised to bring in the big numbers on Tuesday.

From the Des Moines Register:


"The 99-county tour was our path to victory," said Bachmann, whose poll numbers have been declining since her victory at the Iowa straw poll in Ames in August.

Her Iowa campaign chairman, Brad Zaun, went so far as to say the campaign expected a top-three finish on Tuesday night.

Regardless of the results, Bachmann will not drop out of the race, she told the throng of media gathered in the office. "Across our 99-county tour people kept telling me to do what we did to Ron Paul in the Sioux City debate to Barack Obama in the upcoming debates," she said.

Photo by Jennifer Simonson/MPR

Sunday 1/1/2012
Down to the wire in Iowa

Posted at 9:39 AM on January 1, 2012 by Emily Kaiser
Filed under: Hed

Michele Bachmann is currently in last place among candidates campaigning in Iowa for the GOP presidential nomination, according to the latest poll. Leading the pack is Mitt Romney with 24 percent of the vote, followed by Ron Paul with 22 percent. Read comprehensive coverage through Wednesday here on The Big Story Blog.

Iowa: Super PACs fueling negative ads

Posted at 10:16 AM on January 1, 2012 by Emily Kaiser
Filed under: Iowa

The 2012 presidential election is the first contest following a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lowered restrictions on political spending by corporations and rich folks. 

The Star Tribune's Kevin Diaz takes a look at Super PAC spending and some of the concerns surrounding the disclosure of funding for the advertising. The sources of that funding won't be known until well after many of the major state caucuses are over. The Super PACs have a disclosure deadline of Jan. 31.

From the Star Tribune:

"Voters are not going to have timely information on who is providing money to fund these expensive advertising campaigns," said Fred Wertheimer, president and CEO of Democracy 21, a campaign watchdog group in Washington, D.C.

But to David Bossie, president of Citizens United, what voters are seeing is unbridled democracy in action. "Throughout this presidential nominating contest we've seen enthusiastic supporters of the various candidates form Super PACs in support of their chosen candidates," he said. "Their independent speech has helped inform the voters and better enabled them to select the Republican nominee."

There's little argument from anyone that the new Super PACs, which can collect unlimited contributions from wealthy donors, have been a muscular presence in Iowa. Despite the caucus system's Norman Rockwell image of neighborly persuasion, an estimated $12.5 million has been spent on ads in Iowa so far by the candidates and independent groups supporting them.

Iowa: Obama supporter helps Bachmann get out the vote

Posted at 2:04 PM on January 1, 2012 by Emily Kaiser
Filed under: Iowa

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We just got this dispatch from MPR news reporter Mark Zdechlik, who's in Iowa covering the caucuses:

Jonathan Townsend of Tulsa, Okla., above, described himself as a "full-fledged supporter" of President Barack Obama as he took a short break at Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign headquarters. Townsend and 41 classmates from Oral Roberts University are in Des Moines knocking on doors, making telephone calls and otherwise lending support to Bachmann's presidential campaign.

Being the president of the college Democrats at Oral Roberts University is a strange job, Townsend said.

"Hopefully a lot of the Democrats listening right now can get a good laugh and understand that I am playing an away game right now," said Townsend. "I'm not at home, but it's a good experience and I'm doing the best I can right now."

Townsend said he was learning a lot about politics even if he had to do it playing for the opposition.

"[The Iowa caucuses] become the 'Super Bowl' of politics," he said. "I go to a very conservative school, so the opportunities we get academically are generally conservative. I would really enjoy more liberal opportunities as well."

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Oral Roberts sophomore Corey Doohan, right, was sitting at the same table where Townsend was making calls to potential Bachmann supporters. Unlike Townsend, Doohan said he hoped he would be able to cast a vote for Bachmann in November's general election.

"She has a lot of the same values that Oral Roberts has," he said. "Oral Roberts is a Christian school, very conservative and that's really the main reason why we came up here to volunteer our time."

Prior to sitting down at the telephone bank, the students were going door-to-door in the Des Moines area trying to drum up support for Bachmann.

"It's really interesting how many undecided voters there are," Doohan said. "It's a unique experience. We're actually learning a lot about campaigns and how candidates campaign. We just kind of wanted a little bit of an inside scoop."

Oral Roberts government professor Winston Frost said some of his students in Des Moines now were in Ames, Iowa last summer attending the Iowa Straw Poll. Bachmann won that poll, but has struggled ever since, nationally and in Iowa. The latest Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released Saturday evening had Bachmann last among the field of Republicans competing in the Iowa caucuses.

Frost said the Bachmann campaign is footing the bill for his students' trip and that the students are getting college credit for their participation.

"There's no better to teach politics than to have the students actually participate in it," Frost said.

Photos by Jennifer Simonson

Iowa: Bachmann playing the gender card in final days before vote

Posted at 11:09 AM on January 1, 2012 by Emily Kaiser
Filed under: Iowa

bachmanns.png In the final days leading up to the Tuesday Iowa caucuses, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appears to be making gender a bigger issue in her campaign for president. 

From the Associated Press:


The Minnesota congresswoman has made the gender card central to her closing argument. She's urging voters to embrace the idea of a "strong woman in the White House" and is molding herself as "America's Iron Lady" in the vein of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

It's a play that carries as much risk as potential reward because some of the ardent religious conservatives she's aggressively courting have traditional views about gender roles.

As Bachmann darted around Iowa in the hectic days before Tuesday's caucuses, she hit the woman theme hard.

"I'm an Iowa girl. And one thing I remember about Iowa is we are a state of strong women," Bachmann told the lunch crowd at a 50s-themed burger joint in Mount Ayr. "We need a strong woman to turn this country around, right?"

Photo by Jennifer Simonson/MPR

Iowa: GOP candidates' New Year's resolutions

Posted at 12:59 PM on January 1, 2012 by Emily Kaiser
Filed under: Iowa

To celebrate the new year, CBS News managed to corner the GOP presidential candidates and get their New Year's resolutions (sort of). But don't expect resolutions to eat less junk food or exercise.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's resolution:
"Yes, it's to work very, very hard and win the Iowa caucus and then win the New Hampshire primary and then win the South Carolina primary and then go on and win the Florida primary, so my resolution is to win primaries next year and become the nominee."

Watch all of their responses in the Face the Nation roundup:

Iowa: On Sunday talk shows, Bachmann goes after opponents

Posted at 11:47 AM on January 1, 2012 by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Iowa

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- With less than three days to go before the Iowa caucuses, Rep. Michele Bachmann attacked her opponents in separate Sunday morning news appearances.

On Fox News Sunday, Bachmann went after Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator who has unexpectedly risen in the polls over the last few days. Santorum, who's record is strikingly similar to Bachmann's particularly on social issues such as abortion, is threatening to snatch some of Bachmann's support in the last days of the caucus campaign.

Bachmann painted Santorum as a "big spender" Washington insider.

"Senator Santorum voted for the bridge to nowhere," she said, referring to a multi-million bridge pushed by Alaskan lawmakers that became a symbol of excessive government spending. "He's depended earmarks."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has fallen to the lower tier of candidates after surging in August, has made similar attacks on Santorum in this radio ad.

Bachmann said she's a real fiscal conservative.

"Senator Santorum has stood for earmarks, stood for spending," she said. "That's not what we want."

For the most part, Bachmann has rejected earmarks during her time in Congress, but believes that some transportation projects shouldn't be considered earmarks.

Bachmann also argued that Santorum isn't electable because he lost his last race for the Senate by a wide margin.

"I won four races in the last four years, in the toughest years for Republicans -- in a liberal state like Minnesota, I won," Bachmann said.

On ABC's This Week, Bachmann focused on Ron Paul, who's now expected to place first or second in the caucuses. Last week, Bachmann's Iowa chair, Sen. Kent Sorenson, abruptly defected from her campaign for Paul's.

Bachmann has argued that Paul is an isolationist, and could put the nation's security at risk as president.

"From person after person, they said that I won the last debate in Sioux City, Iowa," she said referring to a debate in which she and Paul argued about Iran's nuclear capabilities. "And the reason why is because... he was just fine with Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon."

"We had tremendous momentum coming out of the last debate, and we saw it in county after county in our 99-county tour, where people were just appalled by Ron Paul's position," she said. "They thought it was dangerous."

In both interviews, Bachmann was upbeat about her campaign, despite a new Des Moines Register poll that has her placing last among the candidates actively campaigning in Iowa.

She said the polls don't represent what she heard from voters during her recent tour of Iowa's 99 counties.

"This isn't just about polling," she said. "This is about what we're seeing in reality, and I think Tuesday night people are going to see a miracle."

Bachmann doesn't show signs of giving up.

"We've bought tickets to head off to South Carolina," she said. "We're here for the long race."

Iowa: Santorum says he would bomb Iran nuclear sites

Posted at 1:10 PM on January 1, 2012 by Emily Kaiser
Filed under: Iowa

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican Rick Santorum says that if he's elected president, he would bomb Iran's nuclear facilities unless they were opened for international arms inspectors.

Santorum says President Barack Obama hasn't done enough to prevent the Iranian government from building a nuclear weapon and has risked turning the U.S. into a "paper tiger."

Santorum tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would tell Iranian leaders that either they open up those facilities, begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors -- or the U.S. would attack them.

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, has focused primarily on international diplomacy and economic penalties to try to pressure Iran into abandoning its nuclear program. Iran contends its efforts are for peaceful purposes.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press

Iowa: Caucuses could have record turnout

Posted at 4:20 PM on January 1, 2012 by Emily Kaiser
Filed under: Iowa

Politico Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen is predicting a record year in Iowa.

He appeared on Face the Nation Sunday to talk about the Tuesday caucuses:

"We'll set a record on Tuesday night," Allen said. "The last time, [there were] 119,000 people in 2008, Republicans coming out. They said there could be as many as 140,000 this time because of the excitement of all these candidates and because it's nice weather... We came here without overcoats."

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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