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Updated: 11:58 a.m.
Rep. Michele Bachmann partly credited her opposition to raising the debt ceiling, a position that put the Minnesota Republican at odds with the majority of her own party in Congress, for her success in the Ames straw poll Saturday.
People “appreciated that I was a lone voice,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Fresh off her victory in the Iowa straw poll of Republican presidential contenders, Bachmann appeared on five of the Sunday morning political news shows. On Fox, she focused on jobs and the economy, calling the nation’s credit downgrade and resulting economic turmoil a “gut punch.” She portrayed her opposition to raising the debt ceiling as evidence of her willingness to stand up for her conservative principles, which she said voters would reward.
“What separates me from the field is that I’ve been a proven fighter on issue after issue after issue,” she said.
She also defended her statement in Thursday’s Iowa GOP debate that the credit downgrade proved that she was right to oppose a debt ceiling increase. Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s later said that the downgrade actually stemmed from talk in Washington about defaulting on the debt.
But Bachmann insisted that her opposition to raising the debt limit did not amount to support for default. “I never talked about default,” she said. “No wonder the market would be roiled if we didn’t have a plan. I had a plan.”
Bachmann’s win in the straw poll, which has not always been predictive of a campaign’s success but demonstrates a candidate’s organizational strength, cements her status as a contender for the Republican nomination.
She won with 28.6 percent of the votes cast, and she expressed confidence that she could parlay that victory into the eventual clinching of the nomination.
The GOP field came into clearer focus this weekend, with the formal announcement by Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Saturday that he was throwing his hat into the ring. And after a disappointing third-place finish in Ames, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty dropped his bid Sunday.
Bachmann told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she planned to call Pawlenty later in the day. “He brought an important voice to the race,” she said. She also said she looked forward to facing Perry. “I welcome anyone coming into the race,” she said.
Several show hosts challenged Bachmann’s ability to draw the independent voters who would be necessary to beat President Barack Obama in the general election. “I’m able to attract Democrats and independents,” she said on “Meet the Press.” “We were Democrats growing up. We were reasonable, fair-minded people. I have a message that reaches out to them.”