The morning after her win in the Ames straw poll, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) argued that she could appeal to independent and Democratic leaning voters in a general election and dismissed the challenge from new contender Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
“We had people here yesterday who are independents and Democrats,” Bachmann said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.
Bachmann’s victory in Saturday’s influential straw poll solidifies her position as an early frontrunner for the February Iowa caucuses. Bachmann won the Ames straw poll with about 29 percent of the vote — 4,823 votes out of a total of 16,892 ballots cast.
Bachmann stressed that her home state, Minnesota, was “not a conservative state” and that her own district was a “swing district” that voted to elect then-Gov. Jesse Ventura. "I come from Minnesota. It's not a conservative state. It's more of a liberal state," said Bachmann. “I have been able to attract get a lot of people to vote for me who are Democrats and independents,” she said.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) placed a close second, at about 28 percent and 4,671 total votes. Former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty came in a more distant third at about 14 percent, or 2,293 total votes. After the poor performance, Pawlenty announced Sunday morning he would drop out of the presidential race.
Bachmann said focusing on the economy would attract independent voters to her campaign. She said the 2012 election “won’t just be a conservative election.”
"This won't be just a conservative election, this is really going to be an economic selection. People will want to know who can turn the country around. That will be the big question."
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Voters’ attention would be on “job creation, they want the economy to turn around and work. That is my focus, job creation,” she said.
Bachmann also tried to separate herself from Texas Gov. Rick Perry who announced his presidential bid Saturday but did not participate in the Ames straw poll.
Also appearing on ABC News' This Week, Bachmann argued that Tea Party-leaning voters would back her over the Texas governor. "I've been in Washington fighting the fights for the last four or five years. And I've been at the tip of the spear on these fights, for instance, raising the debt ceiling," she said.
"I was the first member of Congress to introduce the full repeal of Obamacare and of the Dodd-Frank law. And I fought against the Obamacare bill and brought literally tens of thousands of Americans to fight it."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his candidacy in South Carolina at an annual conference hosted by the conservative blog RedState stealing some of the attention from Bachmann's straw poll finish.
Bachmann stressed that she would not be at a disadvantage to Perry's executive experience. "Well, you know, there is no requirement in the Constitution that one be a governor in order to go into public service," she told ABC News' Jake Tapper.
"Ronald Reagan was a governor, but what made Ronald Reagan great wasn't his governing
experience as a governor. It was his core set of principles. Jimmy
Carter was also a governor, but I don't think anyone would argue that
America prospered and flourished under Jimmy Carter's presidency.
So being a governor and having governor-level experience isn't the
Bachmann would not reveal if her campaign strategy would change with Perry entering the race and Pawlenty dropping out.
"I think every day going forward we'll take a look at what's happening with strategy, but our main strategy is to win. Obama is my strategy. I intend to be the nominee of the Republican Party and to take him on and to defeat him in 2012, because we have to turn the economy around and create jobs. That's what I'm going to do," said Bachmann on ABC.
CNN host Candy Crowley called on Bachmann to address concerns about her experience by naming her greatest legislative achievement. “What I brag about most was what I was able to accomplish in Minnesota. … We were able to change the system with education reform.”
Bachmann also pointed a finger at the Democrats in Congress, suggesting they had hampered her ability to be a more effective legislator. Bachmann noted that Pelosi had been Speaker for much of her time in the House and said she was “not interested in my pro-growth agenda.”
When asked to name one bill she had compromised on, Bachmann responded: “I’ve done that throughout my legislative career.” “On big issues I don’t compromise. … I’ve taken thousands of votes in Congress ... the bills aren’t perfect but you vote for them.”
“I’ll bring a core set of principles… that’s what I’m going to bring,” stressed Bachmann.