Resting the fate of her strained presidential bid on a one-state gambit, Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannBoehner says he voted for Trump, didn't push back on election claims because he's retired Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers Boehner finally calls it as he sees it MORE (R-Minn.) on Thursday entrenched herself deeper in Iowa, trumpeting a new team of state staffers the day before a slated three-day tour of the Hawkeye State.
But part and parcel to Bachmann’s blunder in New Hampshire — which holds the second primary contest of the season — was her longstanding, almost absolute focus on Iowa, which holds the first.
Bachmann, however, has seen her poll numbers plummet in Iowa, where she’s gone from the top spot to trailing most of her rivals.
“We have a strong, experienced organization in place that is equipped to build upon Michele Bachmann’s historic victory in the Republican Party of Iowa straw poll this summer,” Keith Nahigian, Bachmann’s national campaign manager, said in announcing the new Iowa hires.
Seven new Iowa staff members, including two faith leaders and a home-school coalition director, will bring Bachmann’s total to 10 full-time workers in the state. She also elevated Iowa political veteran Eric Woolson from heading her media efforts to managing her Iowa campaign.
Woolson also managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s (R) successful Iowa campaign in 2008, which led to his first-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. Bachmann has sought to replicate Huckabee’s success by appealing to the large swath of the Iowa caucus voters composed of evangelical voters. And her national spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, is another veteran of Huckabee’s 2008 campaign.
The efforts to bulk up in Iowa also came as the GOP candidates besting Bachmann in the polls, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and businessman Herman Cain, are putting new muscle into their Iowa operations. Perry started airing television ads in Iowa on Monday, opening up the spending spout for his first major media buy and creating an opportunity to introduce himself to caucus-goers on his own terms. And last week, Cain brought on Steve Grubbs, a former chairman of Iowa’s GOP, to head his state efforts.
But Bachmann downplayed the emphasis on who has what staffers and where, telling Fox News that her Iowa hirings came in concert with stepped-up efforts in other early-voting states.
“Quite honestly, nobody asked me about the staffing and what is going on,” Bachmann said Wednesday. “What they talked to me about is my Real Jobs Right Now plan.”
With the flat-rate tax plans floated by Perry and Cain grabbing most of the attention in the race, Bachmann has fought to protect a place in the discussion for her policy proposals, which include a sweeping purge of regulations put in place under President Obama.
Yet in Iowa, Bachmann’s focus, as with most of the other candidates, is on family values, faith and social conservatism — issues that have formed the basis for her earlier successes in the state.
Bachmann soared to first place in the polls in Iowa over the summer, when she won the August straw poll in Ames. But once her momentum caved and she relinquished the No. 1 spot, Iowa became anything-can-happen territory for the GOP candidates.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who never made a strong Iowa showing central to his early-state strategy, took top billing with 24 percent in a CNN poll of Iowa Republicans released Wednesday. Cain came in second with 21 percent, while Perry has fallen precipitously to 10 percent, where he is tied for fourth with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.). Bachmann came in at 6 percent, a sixth-place finish.
But Iowans will have no shortage of opportunities to engage with the Minnesota congresswoman in the two months left until the caucuses. On Friday, Bachmann will kick off a three-day swing through Iowa, holding four town-hall meetings, addressing both a Lutheran and a Baptist church and touring an industrial pump factory in Muscatine, Iowa.