Rep. Bachmann casts herself as the 'underdog' in Saturday's Iowa straw poll

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) sought to set lower expectations for her straw poll performance tomorrow, calling herself an "underdog" in the contest.

Bachmann, who leads most polls gauging Iowa Republicans' preference in a candidate to win next February's caucuses, would not call herself a front-runner ahead of tomorrow's influential straw poll in Ames.

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"We've been working very hard," Bachmann said of her effort there in a taping of Bloomberg TV's "Political Capital" set to air over the weekend. "We're a little bit of an underdog, because I've only announced for the presidency less than two months ago."

The Tea Party congresswoman is expected to finish somewhere in the top three in tomorrow's straw poll; a finish below that would be a tremendous disappointment for her campaign. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) are also gunning for a top-three finish.

A win at the straw poll is perceived as a decent — if imprecise — measure of campaign organization and enthusiasm for the candidacy in the state. Each of the candidates has sought to manage expectations, though Pawlenty conceded Friday that he might be forced to "reassess" the direction of his campaign if he finishes poorly at the event.

"We haven't been here in the state working more than six, seven weeks," Bachmann said. "And so we're working very hard, very pleased with the response that we're seeing, and we're hopeful."