INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) — Michele Bachmann’s struggling presidential campaign saw her Iowa chairman defect Wednesday to rival Ron Paul’s side, an embarrassing blow that came as some called for her to leave the race to free up her supporters for other candidates.

Hours after appearing with Bachmann at an event, state Sen. Kent Sorenson gave his endorsement to the Texas congressman at a Des Moines rally. Sorenson said he resigned from Bachmann’s campaign to back Paul, whom he called the most conservative of the top-tier candidates.

Bachmann said Sorenson made the jump after “he was offered a large sum of money to go to work for the Paul campaign.”

“Kent said to me yesterday that ‘everyone sells out in Iowa, why shouldn’t I,'” Bachmann said in a written statement. “Then he told me he would stay with our campaign. The Ron Paul campaign has to answer for its actions.”

Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton said the campaign was not paying Sorenson and that he was puzzled why Bachmann would make such a claim against an elected official popular with Iowa conservatives.

“We’ve always known Michele to be an honorable person. She should stop slandering an honorable Iowa state senator,” Benton said.

Benton said Paul campaign officials had been begun speaking to Sorenson “in earnest” in the last few days, and that he had informed the campaign Wednesday he was ready to sign on.

Sorenson announced the switch during a Paul veterans rally in Des Moines. He didn’t immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press to address Bachmann’s charges that the move was financially based.

“The fact is, there is a clear top tier in the race for the Republican nomination for president, both here in Iowa and nationally. Ron Paul is easily the most conservative of this group,” Sorenson said in a statement. “The truth is, it was an excruciatingly difficult decision for me to decide between supporting Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul at the beginning of this campaign.”

Susan Geddes, a veteran operative in conservative GOP political circles who managed Sorenson’s 2008 and 2010 legislative races, said Sorenson had told her several times, as recently as last month, that the Paul campaign had offered him money to leave Bachmann’s campaign for the Texas congressman’s.

Geddes said Sorenson had damaged his political future in Iowa by abandoning Bachmann’s campaign less than a week before the caucuses.

“He just committed political suicide,” she said.

Bachmann has been on a frantic 99-county push across Iowa in an effort to recover from the slide that followed her Iowa straw poll victory in August. Paul was a close second in that contest.

Earlier in the day, two influential pastors said they wanted either her or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to drop out of the running to keep evangelical voters from splitting their support. Bachmann insisted she would see the Iowa caucus campaign through.

Sorenson, who has strong ties to Iowa’s tea party, was one of Bachmann’s earliest public supporters and joined her for an afternoon stop at a Pizza Ranch restaurant in Indianola. Standing by her side, he declined to speak to the crowd there, citing numbness from dental work.

All day, Bachmann bashed Paul as “dangerous” for having a hands-off foreign policy. It was part of a double-barreled attack on the two Texans in the race. She went after Gov. Rick Perry for “27 years as a political insider.”

The aggressive tone underscored 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 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.

Campaigning in Indianola on Wednesday, Perry scored what appeared to be a double hit of his own. Although he didn’t name his targets, he took aim at lawmakers who sound off in Washington without much influence on policy — a rap sometimes attached to Bachmann and Paul.

“Some campaigns are about their voting record, on bills that never make it to the president’s desk. I’m campaigning on ideas that I’ve signed into law,” Perry said.

As for Paul, Bachmann criticized him as misguided about foreign threats to U.S. interests.

“Ron Paul would be a dangerous president,” Perry said. “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 cast 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.

State Sen. Brad Zaun, who had been Bachmann’s Iowa co-chairman, was named full chairman after Sorenson’s resignation.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (29)
  1. Ahhhhgad says:

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha——–gasp——-hahahahahahahahahahaha. Lies lies lies Michele with one L. Lies. Go away now.

    1. sheishot says:

      ……She won’t lose me, I’m in it for the long haul.

  2. Fed up says:

    Michele Bachmann should be thinking a little more about the job she was elected to do than another job that she wants. I voted for her in 2010, and I expect her to do the job she was elected to do. She has failed miserably – she hasn’t even TRIED to do her job, and I’m fed up with it. I have no intention of ever voting for Michele Bachmann again.

    1. jackactionhero says:

      You were one of the fooled before, and more than likely you’ll just be fooled by another person of the same (low) intellect as Bachmann.

      1. desert eagle .50 says:

        What about her intellect makes you think it is low? Please be specific.

  3. j speedbag 64 says:

    …but…i…thought…michelle…..was……..gonna be ……president….waaaaaaaaaaaa…waaaaaaaa…..waaaaaaaaaaaaa…..hahahaha she’s toast

  4. frozenrunner says:

    Bachmann does speak some truth. Perry is a double dipper and Paul is dangerous. The people that would encourage her to drop out are as desperate as Bachmann is for votes. Let the people decide which fringe of the universe the want to be on.

    1. insignificant says:

      frozenone…Paul isn’t dangerous…current foreign policies are,eh?…are you one of those who beleives the lie of isolationism?…this is not what Paul views…instead a freindly hand…each nation we bomb,each nation we sanction…THATS dangerous,thats what creates enemies of the U.S.!

    2. getaclueplease says:

      Hey Frozenrunner.Know why 9/11 attack happened?Because our troops were stationed on Saudi soil during the gulf war, which our CIA created Al Quada warned them not to do.

      1. frozenrunner says:

        Getaclue your name is apt. In regards to isolationism, try reading some and see what happens when countries isolate.

        1. huh? says:

          Whoa there. Seems to me we are way ahead of the pack when it comes to the “integrate” or, better word, “occupy.” Perhaps a touch of isolationism may do a little good, eh?

          1. frozenrunner says:

            touch yes, even a good feel would be ok, wholesale, no

            1. huh? says:

              I hear ya. I just like to give ya a little rub now and then in regard to your strong and consistent dislike for Dr. Paul. He won’t be POTUS but there are many of us that don’t buy the cow but appreciate having him as part of the debate. He provides topics and assertions that wouldn’t otherwise be part of table conversation. Jefferson has a smile.

        2. Dont Tread on Me says:

          North Korea is Isolationist. Is that really what you think Ron Paul is pushing for? Get a clue. What blows me away is that nearly every candidate either voted against or now regrets the war in Iraq. Yet people think Iran is more compelling and necessary. Iraq didn’t even have friends. Iran is allied with Russia or China. So invading a country that could literally result in WWIII is less dangerous than seeking diplomatic alternatives? That is just insane. Search Iran 2003 concession plan and tell me there is no hint of possible negotiating that can be done.

          1. @dont tread says:

            You’re right, no need to look it up. There are plenty of us that understand this. Let’s hope we all vote.

          2. frozenrunner says:

            Consider who had deep ties to the defense industry and you understand why there is a war. Look up how much Arab money is invested here. People who have little would dislike those that have a lavish lifestyle. The natives over there don’t stand a chance of going after their leader so they us us to draw people. Censor was out.

            1. Don't Tread on Me says:

              Among other reasons, people who have little dislike us because we live lavishly by exploiting their resources and installing oppressive leaderships to control them and benefit us, as was explicitly shown in the case of Iran. This always comes back to haunt us…blowback. The defense industry runs rampant because we keep electing leaders whose cabinet members have deep ties to those companies while they themselves become pawns. We have wars because it is profitable to those with power and influence. And it’s easy to garner support because people buy in so easily to fear. In every war we have engaged in post WWII, the American public came to lose support because they realized they were duped. Iran is no exception. The arguments against are based on irrevocable fact. The arguments for are based on fear and loose assumption.

              1. frozenrunner says:

                Very true.
                The reality of why politicians do not clean up the bureaucracy is that it is not a glamorous job. The need was there to create, but it is overdone. It would be an arduous task. To get rid of it all and start over (ie fix the problems when they occur again) is perhaps the easiest way, but not the best. I keep hoping that there is someone smart enough to come forth with the answers, but I am afraid they do not exist. Gore talked about it as VP and I was encouraged, but it went nowhere.

        3. Real Truth Please says:

          We are isolated now goofy. The people in the Middle East hate our government and 90% of our own citizens distrust our government. Assassinated leaders and secretly selling arms to tyrants and sneaking into backdoor wars is making us like Nazi germany.

          Ron Paul 2012

    3. Dont Tread on Me says:

      You’re blinder than a bat. If you actually understood the history of our foreign affairs more than you understood the baseless nonsense spewing from Bachmann you would be on the other side of the fence. Every argument she makes on foreign policy is full of false and misleading information. Seriously, go look it up. Then fact check RP’s arguments. Do some research before following like a sheep.

      1. frozenrunner says:

        I said some truth. In calling people sheep or blind, consider your support of Paul. I have read through plenty of Paul’s material. There is a little good, a lot of bad.

  5. concerned voter says:

    I predicted this a year ago and go a lot of flack.

    She will push a PR campaign and right before she’s past the deadline to run again for her current seat, she will drop out and run,

    Makes me want to sing a chorus of “What’s New?”

    And now the sound of -crickets-

  6. Bob Simonet says:

    Ronald Reagan’s First Commandment

    “Thou Shall Not Speak Unkindly About Fellow Republicans!”

  7. To much says:

    God Bless ….. no Republican ….. I guess
    before she falls off the planet for good I still need to know this – does she swallow?

    1. She does gag says:

      she gags and chokes on her words … but is that what ya asking about? lol 😉

  8. Doug Johnson says:

    Michelle could be correct but she has lied so many times or created facts out of thin air, who can believe ANYTHING she says?

  9. marcus says:

    It puts the lotion on its skin.

  10. Swamp Rat says:

    Looks like the MB rats are jumping the s/s Bachmann sinking ship into the other candidates’ campaign lifeboats. Oh, well, some of us so-called political “heretics” saw this was coming. Is she setting herself to run for Congress again? Stay tuned to the Bachmann political soap opera continues with “As the Bachmann World Churns!”.

  11. Murph says:

    I think maybe she got hit in the head with an iron as a kid?Probably not accidently either!

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