Newspaper article

Bachmann's Bad Week Leads Up to Critical Caucuses

Newspaper article

Bachmann's Bad Week Leads Up to Critical Caucuses

Article excerpt

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The week after Christmas was supposed to be the most triumphant time of Michele Bachmann's Republican presidential campaign -- she planned to finish her 99-county tour of Iowa and ride a wave of positive publicity and goodwill to a solid finish in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses.

Instead, the week was dogged with staff defections and poor polling results and an overall negative trajectory heading into Tuesday's must-win contest.

On Wednesday, Bachmann's Iowa chairman, state Sen. Kent Sorenson, left the campaign to endorse Ron Paul. Sorenson was one of Bachmann's first Iowa backers and a high-profile member of her leadership team, often moderating conference calls between Bachmann and her supporters.

Bachmann accused the Paul campaign of paying Sorenson off, which elicited a rebuttal, distributed by the Paul campaign, from her Iowa political director, Wes Enos. By Thursday, he was off the campaign. The staff turnover caused a news cycle vacuum, completely eclipsing the final day of her whirlwind Iowa tour.

Saturday brought more bad news: Bachmann came in sixth among the seven GOP presidential candidates in the last Des Moines Register poll before the caucuses. Only 7 percent of likely caucus-goers say Bachmann is their first choice, and the guts of the poll don't look much better for her:

[bullet] She's viewed as the least knowledgeable in the race (26 percent say so);

[bullet] She's tied with Newt Gingrich as the least able to bring about real change (21 percent);

[bullet] And outside of Ron Paul (29 percent), she's viewed as the least electable in the general election (28 percent say so).

In the background of all of this is Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who is the only other candidate to traverse the entire state this cycle. Santorum is the latest (and in Iowa, it appears the last) Republican to see a surge in support as conservative voters look to find an alternative to the more moderate Mitt Romney. Santorum's surge has hurt many of the other candidates, but perhaps none more than Bachmann.

He and Bachmann have pursued the same voters -- the evangelical Christian conservative base that is so pivotal to the Iowa electorate -- and he received the endorsement of this state's prominent social leader Bob Vander Plaats. …

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