CRESTON, Iowa (AP) — Republican Michele Bachmann did the Texas two-swipe Wednesday in her push to gain ground before next week’s presidential caucuses in Iowa.
The Minnesota congresswoman, trailing in the race for her party’s presidential nomination, went after Texas Gov. Rick Perry for “27 years as a political insider” and said Texas Rep. Ron Paul would be “dangerous as president” because of his hands-off views on national security, especially toward nuclear weapons-seeking Iran.
The aggressive tone underscores Bachmann’s role as a chaser in the final week of campaigning. She has bet heavily on Iowa, where she was born.
Bachmann came hardest at Perry, who this week began a television ad lumping Bachmann with other Washington figures seeking the GOP nomination in his attempt to come off as the outsider in the race.
“Just because he’s held office outside of Washington, D.C., does not mean he is not a political insider. It’s what you do in your office that matters,” she said outside a small-town cafe. “There aren’t very many politicians who have spent more time paying off political donors than Gov. Rick Perry has.”
Perry has served Texas as a part-time legislator, agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor.
Bachmann also said Perry has engaged in “crony capitalism” by helping donors with Texas government contracts or giving them political appointments. And she called Perry a double-dipper for collecting his gubernatorial salary and state pension at the same time.
As for Paul, who is among the candidates leading in Iowa, Bachmann criticized him as misguided about foreign threats to U.S. interests.
“Ron Paul would be a dangerous president. He would have us ignore all of the warning signs of another brutal dictator who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. I won’t. He would wait until one of our cities is wiped off of the map until he reacted. I won’t wait.”
On Wednesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CNN that he would find it personally difficult to vote for Paul if the Texas congressman were to become the party’s choice to go up against President Barack Obama next fall. Bachmann refused to go that far, dodging two direct questions about her willingness to back Paul later on. “He won’t win the nomination,” she said.
At stop after stop, Bachmann is casting herself as America’s “Iron Lady,” the nickname assigned to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Bachmann sits on the House Intelligence Committee, which she said gives her a firm grip on world affairs.
Bachmann is nearing the end of a two-week campaign sprint through Iowa’s 99 counties. She expects to hit the final three on Thursday.
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