AMES, Iowa (AP) — It might be a preview of the months ahead in the GOP presidential race.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who just got into the race, and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, fresh off an Iowa straw poll victory, were competing for attention Sunday as their campaign schedules put them at the same event Sunday.
Both have the backing of tea partyers and evangelical conservatives. Both already are making big plays for those two important constituencies in Iowa.
Perry was making his first campaign visit to Iowa since announcing his candidacy Saturday in South Carolina in a speech that emphasized his economic credentials and Texas’ job growth, as well as his conservative stances on social issues and his faith.
The chairman of the Republican Governors Association, he’s an establishment candidate who could be an attractive candidate for economic conservatives in this lead-off caucus state who are looking for a candidate to rally around. Enthusiasm for the GOP national front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and his strong economic message has been muted.
Bachmann, who has risen in Iowa polls since entering the race this summer, was reveling in her first-place finish in the test vote Saturday that proved her campaign has the organizational skills and volunteer network needed to compete strongly in the state’s caucuses next winter.
A candidate backed largely by the grass-roots, she was appearing on a series of Sunday morning news programs as she works to broaden her appeal and challenge rivals more linked to the establishment.
In the straw poll, she trounced home-state rival Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor who has cast himself as an electable establishment choice, by more than 2-to-1 in the nonbinding vote. Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in close behind her. On Sunday, Pawlenty quit the race.
Both Bachmann and Perry were scheduled to speak in a late-afternoon GOP fundraiser, the Black Hawk County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner in Waterloo.
It’s Bachmann’s birthplace, a point she has stressed everywhere while campaigning for the leadoff caucuses, and she wasn’t willing to cede the spotlight to Perry. She changed her plans and decided to attend after Perry announced that he would make his Iowa debut at the event.
Her straw poll victory is expected to give her a boost nationally, especially with fundraising. But it also makes her a target and comes with warnings. Only twice in the five straw polls since they were first held in 1980 has the winner gone on to capture the caucuses.
Romney won the straw poll four years ago, finished second in the caucuses and stumbled during the early primaries before quitting the 2008 race.
Just once did the straw poll winner take the GOP nomination, much less the White House. That was George W. Bush in 2000.
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