Presidential races

Presidential races

Bachmann goes on the attack

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) took a while to take on the GOP front-runners during Monday night's CNN/Tea Party debate, but when she did, she didn't hold back.

After Texas Gov. Rick Perry apologized for the way he went about requiring teenage girls in Texas to get the HPV vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease related to cervical cancer, she attacked him for supporting the plan at all.

{mosads}"To have innocent little 12-year old girls be forced to have to have a government injection through the force of an executive order is flat-out wrong. That should never be done. That’s a violation of the liberty interest," she said witn an edge in her voice. "Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan, they don’t get a do-over. The parents don’t get a do-over."

She then pointed out that Perry's former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for the drug company that produced the vaccine, and insinuated that he was pushing the bill because of that relationship.

Perry shot back, pointing out that he raises millions of dollars and the company had given him just $5,000. "If you’re saying I could be bought for $5,000 I’m offended," he said.

Bachmann's retort: "I’m offended for all the little girls and parents that didn’t have a choice."

Tea Party conservatives who overall have warmed to Perry have serious concerns about that executive order, and the exchange showed that: Bachmann's final retort received the loudest applause of the night so far.

Bachmann later hit Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for supporting a health insurance overhaul that included a mandate that individuals buy health insurance. "No state has the constitutional right to force a person as a condition of citizenship to buy a product or service against their will," she said. "It's unconstitutional whether it's the state government or whether it’s the national government."

She has faded in the polls since Perry entered the race -- he has eaten into her Tea Party base of support, and she came into this debate needing to show she can hold hold her own against him, especially in front of a friendly audience.

Updated at 9:27 p.m.

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Perry softens tone, defends Social Security views in op-ed

Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended his Social Security views but shied away from some of his harsher rhetoric on the issue in a Monday USA Today op-ed.

The piece comes ahead of Monday evening's GOP debate in Florida, a state with a high number of elderly voters that could be crucial in the GOP nominating process.

"I am going to be honest with the American people. Our elected leaders must have the strength to speak frankly about entitlement reform if we are to right our nation's financial course and get the USA working again," Perry wrote. "We must have a frank, honest national conversation about fixing Social Security to protect benefits for those at or near retirement while keeping faith with younger generations, who are being asked to pay."

The piece does not refer to Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme," which Perry did during last week's presidential debate, and it affirms the worth of the program, a major pivot from Perry's description of it as "a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal" in his book, Fed Up.

While some Republicans including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have called for a major overhaul of the popular program, which politicians from both parties agree is on an unsustainable fiscal path, it is considered politically dangerous to criticize the program itself.

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Poll: Perry maintains lead on eve of debate

Texas Gov. Rick Perry maintains his lead in national polls leading up to his second debate performance Monday night, according to a new poll conducted by CNN and ORC International.

Perry is backed by 32 percent of Republican voters, the same percentage who backed him in CNN's last poll conducted in late August. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is backed by 21 percent of voters, while Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) receives the support of 13 percent of voters. No other Republican candidate breaks into double digits.

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Bachmann will appear on Leno

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a favorite of late-night comedians, will make her own late-night appearance next Friday on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." 

Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart said the appearance has been in the works for a number of months and was originally scheduled for this week, but was rescheduled after President Obama called a joint session of Congress to deliver a jobs address. 

Stewart said NBC had reached out to the campaign with the idea of having the presidential candidate on the show. 

Bachmann, like most of the candidates, has been the subject of many a Leno joke in the past. In June, Leno did a segment poking fun at Bachmann's struggles to find a theme song. Singer Tom Petty had objected after Bachmann used his song "American Girl" at a campaign event.

Bachmann's scheduled appearance was first reported by The Associated Press.

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Ex-Romney staffer to run Perry's Florida campaign

Former Romney staffer Nick Hansen will run Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign in Florida against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Perry campaign announced Friday.

Hansen ran Romney's Tampa Bay field operation in 2008. He will serve as Perry's statewide field director.

Perry also snagged Anthony Bustamante, who ran now-Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) highly successful insurgent campaign against then-Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) in 2010.

Florida will be an important, and possibly crucial, state for the GOP nomination, and its large and diverse population make it a high-stakes and complicated place to campaign. The Sunshine State will vote sometime after Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina; with Romney in a strong position in New Hampshire and Nevada and Perry doing well in Iowa and South Carolina polls, Florida could be the state that determines the nomination.

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Timing, competing events undercut Bachmann's response to Obama

If Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was hoping for a chance to reassert herself in the national political spotlight, Thursday night wasn't it. 

The presidential candidate scheduled a news conference to rebut President Obama's jobs plan after his speech to a joint session of Congress, when the GOP decided not to give an official on-camera response. 

But television networks didn't carry Bachmann's response live, and CNN played just a few sentences of it during a roundup of Republican responses to the president's proposal. 

Timing and competing news events outside of Bachmann's control also worked against her. Bachmann's remarks — at 8:30 p.m. — came almost 45 minutes after the end of Obama's speech, unlike the official response the opposing party gives to the State of the Union speech, which follows almost immediately after. By the time Bachmann took to the podium, many viewers had switched to the opening game of the NFL season. 

Bachmann and Obama shared rare common ground Thursday: both had their big moments stepped on by breaking news about a potential terrorism threat linked to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Reports of the threat starting percolating just before and during Obama's speech, sending television networks in a frenzy to play catchup as Obama returned to the White House and Bachmann prepared to give her response. 

Some fellow Republican House members had derided Bachmann's choice to give her own response as an anxious attempt to stay relevant in the presidential race following a Wednesday debate where Bachmann got little airtime. 

For her part, Bachmann said she was appearing Thursday in her capacity as a representative, and declined to take any campaign-related questions. Instead, she urged Congress not to pass Obama's job-creation plan, and put forth her own 9-point plan to jump-start job growth — much of which consisted of repealing what Democrats have already done. 

"We should have a robust turnaround," Bachmann said. "Not only are we not seeing a robust turnout, it's barely an anemic recovery."

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