Iowa separates Bachmann, Palin

July 2, 2011


Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are veteran politicians with strong conservative views that attract Republican activists, especially tea party types. Both are good communicators but prone to controversial statements, including some rewriting of American history.

This week, both visited Iowa, further spurring speculation they may yet become GOP presidential rivals.

But their contrasting events — Bachmann formally announcing her candidacy in her childhood home of Waterloo and Palin reiterating that she might run at the Pella premiere of a friendly biopic — underscored differences in how they have pursued their growing political celebrity.

They explain why the Minnesota congresswoman is emerging as a serious contender while party leaders and voters increasingly dismiss the former Alaska governor.

Palin’s appearance was another high-profile event featuring her celebrity that does little for a presidential candidacy. Though she frequently comments on issues, her hard anti-Obama stance shows little depth or nuance.

Top Republicans increasingly question her seriousness. Analyst Rich Galen called her “a great personality” but neither “a good governor of Alaska” nor “a good candidate for vice president.” Karl Rove said she lacked presidential “gravitas.”

Polls indicate Palin’s appeal has steadily declined. A recent CBS News survey showed more than half of Republicans don’t want her to run.

Bachmann, meanwhile, is the summer’s rising GOP star, parlaying enthusiasm among tea party activists and a strong performance in the recent New Hampshire debate into second place in subsequent national and Iowa polls.

Unlike Palin, she has moved methodically and traditionally, hiring veteran GOP operatives Ed Rollins and Ed Goeas to run her campaign and hone her message. She avoids Palin’s penchant for trashing the media.

On Sunday, she gave a succinct defense of her qualifications to what she correctly said was an “insulting” question when Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace asked if she was “a flake.”

“I’m a serious person,” she replied, citing her tax law doctorate and multilayered career that includes starting a charter school, running a tax preparation business and serving a dozen years in elective office.

Unlike rivals Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman, Bachmann has not reversed some positions to accommodate the predominantly conservative GOP electorate.

But she suffers from making misleading, sometimes hyperbolic, statements on subjects from political issues to American history, and analysts generally believe she is too far right to win.

She falsely stated America’s founding fathers “worked tirelessly” to end slavery and mistakenly told a New Hampshire audience, “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” (That was Massachusetts.) On Monday, she said John Wayne came from Waterloo, apparently confusing the iconic actor with serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

More substantively, she has misleadingly contended the Congressional Budget Office said Obama’s health care initiative “will kill 800,000 jobs,” and said Obama “may have anti-American views,” tempering that to say he “has been wrong in his policy prescriptions.”

Nevertheless, Bachmann’s strong Des Moines Register poll showing indicates she will be a top contender in Iowa’s Aug. 13 straw poll and next winter’s caucuses.

But that could hinge on whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential tea party rival with a superior record of accomplishment, or Palin get in. Perry’s advisers are studying whether he can raise enough money and build an organization for the long run, also crucial considerations for Bachmann.

In 2008, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee lacked the resources to sustain momentum from winning Iowa. That could be important again, given Romney’s wealth and fund-raising capacity.

Still, Bachmann is off to a good start in trying to become the tea party alternative to Romney that many thought Palin would be.

Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News.


Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

I wish people would stop comparing Palin and Bachmann just because they're both Republican. And crazy. And know-nothings. And Jesus freaks … who claim to receive messages from God. Who both get their historical facts wrong all the time and both give off a sound only animals can hear and make microwaves explode. Seriously, stop comparing them.

Palin says stupid things because she wants to goad people or because she hasn't a clue what else to say.

Bachmann says the same stupid things because she actually believes them.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Not much.

Palin managed to accomplish a bit in her few months as Governor. She renegotiated the deal that the People's Republic of Alaska has with the oil companies, for example. (Granted, she did it because the old deal had been negotiated by her enemies, and for Palin politics is about nothing if it isn't about revenge).

Bachmann has accomplished nothing of substance I see in her years in Congress.

Palin worked on the Board of the Alaskan oil and gas commission (until she realized it was work and quit).

Bachmann worked for the IRS (a gov't job - after getting a specialized degree that even in this economy almost guarantees a decent job with prestigious consultant groups).

Palin rambled around from school to school until she finally managed to graduate with a Bachelors degree.

Bachmann got a law degree from Oral Roberts University -- in the year the law school was dismantled under threat of dis-accreditation.

Palin, famously, doesn't know what the Bush Doctrine is.

Bachmann just thinks Bush was a pussy.

Palin, famously, reads "all of" the magazines and newspapers.

Bachmann, famously, reads wacko economists on the beach.

Palin has an unerring nose for crafting ways to monetize her fame.

Bachman ranks as something like 270/435th in net assets ... in a House of Representatives filled with millionaires.

Bachmann, famously, has fostered 23 children besides raising her own (something she apparently does so well that leftists applaud her and wish she'd quit her job and turn her attention to).

Palin, famously, uses her children as campaign props and flesh and blood verification of her "life" bona fides (something that she apparently does so poorly that the children are spoiled, potty mouthed, troubled kids that probably should be placed in state custody).

Bachmann believes in independence.

The Palins believe in the Alaskan Independence Party.

Bachmann receives tens of thousands of taxpayer provided welfare from a family farm.

Palin of course receives socialist welfare like everyone else in Alaska.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

Bachmann's tenure in Congress looks very much like that of a junior Senator from Illinois. Neither did enough to distinguish themselves, suggesting that the Presidency was something they would excel at. In the case of that junior Senator, it has been shown that he is indeed in over his head. In Bachmann's case, it has yet to be proven. Neither will get my vote given the current situation.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Really? I remember a junior Senator from Illinois in office for all of 3 years who managed to accomplish quite a lot in a short time there, especially given that in the Senate, seniority is everything. Ethics, nuclear security, budget transparency, tightening the screws on Iran, SCHIP.

Bachmann's been in the House going on a decade and has N.E.V.E.R. had a bill--or resolution--of hers passed. You don't need seniority in the House to make things happen. It's an open secret among her colleagues that she's all camera hog and no work horse.

Spin, spin, spin. You'd be better off convincing everyone that Pope Pius XII and Adolf Hitler had remarkably similar accomplishments!!

verity 6 years, 11 months ago

"Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin" by former staffer Frank Bailey, a born-again fundamentalist Christian who thought he was doing God's will by serving Palin, is an enlightening read if you can wade through it.

uncleandyt 6 years, 11 months ago

Bachmann said that carbon dioxide makes up 3% of the Earth's atmosphere. Palin pockets way over 50% of the contributions to SarahPAC. The hiring of Rollins is a good move, politically. Ed might point out that Michelle should try to close her mouth sometimes while listening to Hannity, bugs could fly in. The nose can also be used for breathing. Didn't Rick Perry work for Al Gore ? I will ask him on "tweeter".

riverdrifter 6 years, 11 months ago

"“I’m a serious person...”

Anybody who has to say so...

bolshavik_vw 6 years, 11 months ago

Alright, it is a Cat Fight Dumb and Dumber

Paul R Getto 6 years, 11 months ago

Quite a pair to draw to, I must say. MB is clever, well-educated and interesting to a point. SP has finally cashed in and is unlikely to take a 90% pay cut to be our next president. I'm still rooting for this bumper sticker.....Palin/Beck 2012. It's a no brainer.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

How did this page come to be scrubbed of most of its commentary from Sat?

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