Added by Nigel Shelbourne on December 30, 2011
I’m ready to rise up and become the Iron Lady of America, says Bachmann
The once front-runner of the Republican race takes inspiration from Thatcher as she faces tough battle
By Toby Harnden in Marshalltown, Iowa
Michele Bachmann, the one-time Republican front-runner in Iowa, is casting herself as “America’s Margaret Thatcher” as she struggles to avoid a humiliation in Tuesday’s caucuses that would end her White House hopes.
Mrs Bachmann would then face a tough battle to be re-elected to Congress in her home state of Minnesota after irritating constituents by trumpeting the fact she was born in Iowa and all but adopting it as her homeland.
An NBC/Marist poll put Mrs Bachmann, who was victor in the Iowa straw poll in August, a distant sixth in the state with just five per cent support.
She has been badly damaged by the defection of her campaign manager Kent Sorenson, an Iowa state senator, to Ron Paul, the maverick libertarian riding high in the polls. She then angrily accused Mr Sorenson of being bribed to leave her campaign.
With the polls in Iowa being more volatile than in any contest in the state for decades, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, appears to have edged into a narrow lead over Dr Paul with Rick Santorum moving into third and Newt Gingrich, continuing his slide, in fifth behind Governor Rick Perry of Texas.
To add to her woes, a “Super PAC” – a Political Action Committee independent of a candidate but often supporting one – switched from backing Mrs Bachmann to Mr Romney. The former governor is the national front-runner and clear favourite for the nomination to face Barack Obama in November.
Leading Christians are concerned that the social conservative vote would be split between Mrs Bachmann, Mr Perry and Mr Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator – prompting entreaties for Mrs Bachmann to drop out before the voting on Tuesday.
But despite her dismal slump since the halcyon days of August, when she was briefly hailed as the main alternative to Mr Romney, Mrs Bachmann has continued to campaign with relentless energy and enthusiasm.
On Thursday, she completed a bus tour of all 99 counties in Iowa that began in Sioux City on Dec 16 following the last Republican debate.
Before she arrived at Legends American Grill in Marshalltown, Iowa, the 55-year-old mother of five and stepmother to 23 was introduced as someone who showed that “bravery’s never been so beautiful, gutsy’s never been so gorgeous”.
Mrs Bachmann told the few dozen who showed up to see her: “We have had a wonderful tour. It’s just been fantastic – the outpouring of support.”
The Minnesota congresswoman made no reference to the polls. Instead, she compared herself to conservative heroes on either side of the Atlantic. “What we needed [in 1980] was the most articulate conservative we had to hold Jimmy Carter responsible and we got Ronald Reagan.
“Britain was also suffering under socialist policies. They needed a strong conservative too and up rose a woman and her name was Margaret Thatcher. She was the Iron Lady and she led Britain back to prosperity too.
“Right now in the United States, we need another strong conservative who can stand up. I want to be America’s Iron Lady, America’s Margaret Thatcher.”