The Big Story Blog

Iowa: Bachmann stops traffic, campaigns in West Des Moines

Posted at 2:51 PM on January 2, 2012 by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Iowa

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- During a campaign stop that briefly brought traffic in West Des Moines to a stand-still, Rep. Michele Bachmann said her own brush with poverty makes her the best person to be the Republican presidential nominee.

"I was born into a middle class family here in Iowa, but we went literally to below poverty overnight," after her parents divorced, Bachmann said. "It's not a hard luck story, it's what a lot of Americans go through."

"But it also taught me something very important: the value of hard work and the work ethic, and also what it takes to succeed," Bachmann said.

Indeed, Bachmann has been working very hard to win the hearts of Iowa's Republican voters. She's toured Iowa's 99 counties, engaging in endless hours of one of the time-tested strategies here in Iowa: retail politics. Yet she continues to place in the bottom of the polls.

Initially, Bachmann was only meant to visit Paula's Maid Rite on Elm Street in West Des Moines.

But the tiny space became so quickly packed with voters and reporters, that her campaign arranged to have Bachmann swing by a pet supply store, a flower shop, and a market that sells only goods from Iowa.

It was arguably one of the largest events Bachmann has attended since she started her last campaign push through Iowa in the lead-up to tomorrow's caucuses. The crowd included members of the media from Japan and Sweden, as well as a group of 22 high school students from the Blake School in Minneapolis who are in town to help the candidates with get out the vote activities.

In a press conference held outside her campaign bus, Bachmann discounted the latest polls, saying that she's optimistic about tomorrow night given what she's seen during her tour around Iowa.

"It was like a light switch was flipped on after the Iowa debate," she said referring to the last gathering of the candidates on one stage before the holidays. "We saw people, literally thousands of people, make their decision on the spot."

Her supporters, she said, are her best advocates. Bachmann plans to win votes between today and tomorrow by relying on them to talk to their neighbors and friends about why they should vote for her.

Bachmann said she has every intention of continuing on to primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

She also criticized all of her opponents - Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich for their support of a health insurance mandate, Ron Paul for espousing foreign policy that she considers isolationist, Rick Santorum for supporting earmarks, and Rick Perry for allowing children of those in the United States illegally to get tuition breaks.


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.