DES MOINES, Iowa - Rep. Michele Bachman insisted her campaign has growing momentum in the face of sagging poll numbers and the defection of her state chairman, to rival Ron Paul
At a morning news conference outside a Des Moines radio station, Ms. Bachmann repeated her charge that state Sen. Kent Sorenson, who until the previous night had been her state campaign chairman, had told her that the Ron Paul campaign had offered him "a lot of money'' to switch his allegiance.
The Paul campaign had denied that charge, but Ms. Bachmann, standing in front of her campaign bus, repeated her charge, stating that Mr.Sorenson had reported the Paul offer to her in a phone conversation two days earlier. Mr. Sorenson appeared with Ms. Bachmann at an event Wednesday afternoon, then, just hours later, announced his support for Mr. Paul at an evening rally for the Texas congressman.
The exchanges came as new polls showed Ms. Bachmann, the winner of the Iowa straw poll, fading in the race for Iowa caucus votes. The congresswoman disputed those findings, contending that they were contradicted by "what we're seeing on the ground.''
She boasted of the outpouring of support she had encountered on her 99-county bus tour across the state. By Thursday morning, she reported, she had hit 95 of the state's counties and planned to hit the remaining four by Friday.
Ms. Bachmann suggested that the Paul campaign had been put on the defensive by her attacks on the congressman at during the final pre-caucus debate earlier this month in Sioux City. One of the sharpest exchanges at that forum involved Ms. Bachmann's contention that Mr. Paul would endanger the country through his relaxed attitude toward the question of whether Iran will acquire nuclear weapons.
According to several recent polls, Mr. Paul is contending for a win here while Ms Bachmann's once leading campaign has slumped. a CNN/Time/ORC survey released Wednesday showed the Texas congressman in a virtual tie for first place with foremr Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Ms. Bachmann registered just 9 percent, the lowest among the six GOP candidates contending in the caucuses.
During her outdoor press conference in unseasonably work weather, Ms. Bachmann also took a not-so-veiled shot at the other front-runner, Mr. Romney as she contended that the country would be ill-served by a presidential race between "a frugal socialist,'' and "an out-of-control socialist.''
Ms. Bachmann is a frequent critic of the administration's health care law and has argued that the Massachusetts health care law signed by Mr. Romney shares many of the defects she sees in it.