Slipping Bachmann seeks jolt for GOP campaign

By Thomas Beaumont

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Sept. 9 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Some Iowa Republicans recently criticized Bachmann for staying on her campaign bus during a county GOP dinner while Perry was speaking. The episode fed a budding narrative that Bachmann pays more attention to stagecraft than mingling with activists, something that doesn't sit well with Iowans used to politicians doing retail campaigning.

"Her campaign has to drop this rock-star motif," said Judd Saul, an undecided Iowa Republican who attended the event last month. "She won the straw poll but needs to dig in, shake our hands, get to know us."

Other would-be backers have grown frustrated by what they view as a sound-bite campaign.

Retired nurse Ellen Harward, a Myrtle Beach Republican, was attracted to Bachmann after seeing her at a late June rally. But by this week, Harward had not decided whether she would back her in the South Carolina primary, the first Southern contest.

"She's starting to sound like a broken record," Harward said. "If she could come out and show something that would set her apart from everyone else, it would make people start looking at her in a different way. It might give her some oomph her campaign needs."

The return of Congress, which has spending and economic issues on its plate, also could give Bachmann a chance to reclaim the spotlight and rekindle the populist spark that built her into a surprise contender. Over the summer, she used her role as a vocal critic of the Obama administration and the GOP leadership in Congress to rail against deal-making in Washington, especially on raising the debt ceiling. She opposed it.

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