Bachmann supporters insist presidential race isn't overby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio
Rock Rapids, Iowa — Michele Bachmann will be back in Iowa later this week for another presidential campaign trip. Bachmann, who represents Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, wrapped up a three-day swing through the Hawkeye State over the weekend, selling herself as the only true conservative in the GOP nomination battle.
Even though Bachmann has seen her standing in public opinion polls drop since the summer, some Iowa political observers say she's very much a contender to win in Iowa.
When we first met Todd Hambleton in late May, the corn around Guthrie Center, Iowa, was just sprouting. Hambleton was looking forward to the possibility that Michele Bachmann would run for president.
"She is saying things and doing things that the regular Republican establishment doesn't like. That's why I like Michele Bachmann, because she is ruffling some feathers," she said at the time.
Now those lush green corn seedlings are tall, brown, dried-out stalks. The harvest is well underway. Bachmann's been in the race for three months, and Hambleton is still a big fan of hers.
"It seems like whenever I hear her speak, she's talking about the very thing that I'm saying is smaller government, less intrusiveness," he said.
Hambleton applauds Bachmann for holding her ground on the issues.
"Because if you're willing to settle you're willing to compromise, and all compromise is is losing. So I agree with what she's saying," he said.
An hour or so to the northwest, in Denison, Iowa, Bachmann was wrapping up a speech in front of her campaign bus. A few dozen people were there to see her.
She talked about ways to create jobs and discourage illegal immigration. She also talked tough about national security, and made it clear she opposes legalized abortion and same-sex marriage.
Bachmann told the audience Republicans are practically guaranteed to win back the White House.
"The cake is baked. President Obama will be a one-term president. I'm here to tell you that," Bachmann said.
Bachmann said Republicans need not settle for anything less than a true conservative like herself. In a veiled criticism of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, she said they don't need a moderate to win next year.
"We can't settle for a candidate who is going to be compromised, or is not going to do what they say and say what they mean," said Bachmann. "That's what sets me apart from all of the candidates in this race."
Tom Spencer, 71, of Denison, said Bachmann impressed him and allayed concerns he had that as a woman, Bachmann might not be tough enough to be president.
"She hit all of the points that I'm concerned about," he said.
Since Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the presidential race, Bachmann has slipped in the polls, so much so that some political observers are beginning to write her off. Iowa-based conservative talk radio host Steve Deace says Bachmann still has a chance, even though he says she's been bungling her campaign.
"From about the end of May until the straw poll, Michele Bachmann pretty much did everything right. Since winning the straw poll, she has pretty much done everything wrong," he said.
Deace and some other Iowa Republican insiders say Bachmann lost confidence when Perry entered the race.
"I think Michele's got to go back before the straw poll, when Tim Pawlenty took her on, and she was willing -- in public on national television -- to deliver a kill shot, metaphorically speaking," said Deace. I think she's got to go back and recover that. I think to recover her base and her momentum, people have to see her capable and willing of delivering the kill shot against a Mitt Romney, against a Rick Perry."
On Friday, Bachmann was at a community center in Rock Rapids, another small town in northwestern Iowa.
"There are very few people in Washington, D.C. who are fighters," Bachmann told the crowd. "There are very few. That's what I bring to this candidate lineup."
Just as she did at every stop on her latest swing through Iowa, Bachmann fielded questions and tried to shake everyone's hand. A lot of people wanted their picture taken with her, including Shannon Harkness.
"I'm pulling for her, I'm praying for her. I think she is what America needs," said Harkness.
Harkness said she doesn't pay much attention to the polls, and she reminds people that at this time four years ago, polls showed Mike Huckabee in fourth place. Huckabee went on to win the Iowa caucuses.
"Personally, I'm tried of the media telling us who our GOP nominee is going to be," she said.
The 2012 Iowa Caucuses are currently set for Jan. 3.
- Morning Edition, 10/17/2011, 7:20 a.m.