DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Michele Bachmann ramped up accusations Thursday that a top supporter was paid to defect to rival Ron Paul, and vowed to stay in the race through next week’s Iowa caucuses.
The Minnesota congresswoman dismissed the idea that her campaign was in disarray following the departure of former Iowa chairman Kent Sorenson the night before. She called her campaign organization “strong” and said her headquarters had received 150 calls of support after Sorenson’s switch was made public.
Sorenson backed Paul on Wednesday, a few hours after appearing with Bachmann. She alleges he was offered “a lot of money” to change sides, an inducement she said Sorenson had told her about during a telephone conversation on Tuesday.
“I know what I was told in that conversation,” she said.
The Paul campaign and Sorenson deny that money factored into the decision or that any such offer was made.
Sorenson, a state senator, has not returned multiple telephone and text messages from The Associated Press. He spoke with CNN on Thursday and refuted Bachmann’s description of their telephone conversation.
Sorenson explained that he wanted to back a candidate who is in a position to keep Mitt Romney from winning Iowa. “I love Michele Bachmann. I love her family. I think they’re fantastic people. It’s unfortunate they’re resorting to these type of tactics,” Sorenson said. “But the fact of the matter is she wasn’t going to win Iowa.”
Bachmann’s Iowa political director, Wes Enos, said he doesn’t believe Sorenson left for money.
“While I personally disagree with Kent’s decision, and plan to stay with Michele Bachmann because I truly believe in her, I cannot, in good conscience watch a good man like Kent Sorenson be attacked as a sell-out,” Enos said in a written statement.
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