DES MOINES, Iowa — Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann pivoted her focus to jobs and the economy Wednesday during her first campaign appearance in Iowa since winning the leadoff caucus state's Republican straw poll earlier this month.
With Texas Gov. Rick Perry now in the race and promoting his state's job growth, Bachmann put jobs ahead of government spending cuts on a day in Des Moines that included private meetings with area business owners.
Bachmann urged the federal government to allow companies with cash holdings overseas to reinvest the money at home without paying taxes on those profits. She claims the change could quickly inject billions in investment into the U.S. economy.
"They want to bring it back into the United States and create jobs here in Iowa, all across the country," Bachmann said while appearing at a tea party rally in Des Moines. "Wouldn't the smartest thing to do be to say to all of these companies, 'Zero repatriation tax?' "
It's a popular notion with economic conservatives, but a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found similar policies to have little impact on employment when used in the past. Most of the money has been reinvested in stock buybacks and shareholder dividends, according to the study.
Bachmann, who had spent July and August railing against the federal deficit and raising the debt ceiling, was focusing on jobs as a rival for the nomination, Jon Huntsman, was releasing his jobs blueprint.
But Bachmann's stepped-up jobs rhetoric comes as the campaign's landscape has changed since she won the Aug. 13 Iowa GOP straw poll on an outpouring from Christian and tea party conservatives.
The biggest change has been the rise of Perry, who entered the race the day of the straw poll and has since vaulted to the top of national polls.
Earlier in the day, Bachmann told Fox News that Perry's rise was due in part to his newness to the race. Bachmann leapt to near the top of the polls in Iowa shortly after entering the race in June.
"Of course, it's natural when you have a new candidate come in, that sucks a lot of the oxygen out of the room," Bachmann said during the Fox interview.
The Texas governor has almost exclusively touted his state's job growth and has recently pulled ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the lead in national polls. Romney, who ran for the GOP nomination in 2008, has focused primarily on jobs and the economy during his second bid.
Bachmann's campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said Bachmann was not adjusting her approach in light of Perry's entry into the race.
"Reining in government spending, limited government and where she stands on the social issues: That's why we won the straw poll," Stewart said. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Bachmann did not mention her opposition to gay marriage during Wednesday's 20-minute talk in Des Moines. She did discuss the debt, but well into her talk, and less so than the economy.
She noted that President Barack Obama, a Democrat seeking re-election next year, had sought a joint session with Congress to unveil a jobs proposal for next week, the same day Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to debate in California. The address is now scheduled a day later, on Sept. 8.
"He hasn't exactly delivered on his promises for jobs," she said of Obama.
Bachmann has spent the last two weeks working to convert her straw poll victory in Iowa into a larger campaign footprint in other early states. She spent a week's time in South Carolina adding staff and lining up supporters in that early Southern primary state. She also spent several days in Florida raising money, headlining rallies and meeting privately with influential ministers.
However, she has said her priority is Iowa, her native and neighboring state.
Perry's first trip to the state as a candidate this month was viewed as a successful launch, and he is aggressively lining up staff.