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Michele Bachmann, the congresswoman from Minnesota, was victorious over the weekend in Iowa. Winning the coveted Ames straw poll by nearly 5,000 votes, Bachmann immediately went on the defensive as attacks came from all sides of the party. Meanwhile, Bachmann’s main rival-Rick Perry- officially announced his presidential bid. Texas congressman Ron Paul took second place in the poll.
Former George W. Bush advisor Matt Dowd said the results show that the field is wide open in Iowa and elsewhere, especially since Ron Paul — “a pro-drug, apologize-to-Iran guy who could never win the nomination” — finished such a strong second.
“Nobody is in that strong a position, and Paul can’t win. So people are going to have hungry ears to listen to Perry,” said Dowd, who was Bush’s pollster and a top advisor in the 2000 and 2004 campaigns.
Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, was deemed the biggest loser of the day. Pawlenty only garnered 2,293 votes compared to Bachmann’s 9,000 votes. “Pawlenty’s going to have a very hard time next week justifying to his contributors how he can carry on,” said Scott Reed, a long time Republican strategist.
In a statement, Pawlenty said that his campaign had “made progress in moving from the back of the pack into a competitive position for the caucuses, but we have a lot more work to do.” He also said he was “just beginning and I’m looking forward to a great campaign.”
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) got 1,657 votes, former Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain got 1,456 votes, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) got 385 votes, former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman got 69 votes and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich) got 35 votes.
Bachmann defended her apparent contradiction of government money on Sunday. Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Bachmann stated that when she accepted funds from President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill that was not in conflict with her vocal criticism of the legislation.
Bachmann repeatedly sought stimulus funds from federal agencies, claiming that the funds would create jobs and improve the economy. However, in public, Bachmann decried the stimulus calling it an act of “overspending” and “fantasy economic” that could hurt jobs. When asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace about this discrepancy, Bachmann claimed there was no conflict.
“I voted against the stimulus and I was very public against the stimulus. After the stimulus was passed and the money was there, why should my constituents or anyone else be disadvantaged?” Bachmann said.
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