The 2012 presidential campaign took a new turn as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Texas Governor Rick Perry and President Barack Obama all appeared in Iowa on Monday after Saturday’s GOP Iowa Straw Poll.
Bachmann won Saturday’s poll, the same day that Perry announced his run for the presidency. Obama will travel through three states that he won in 2008 - Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota - in three days, but the tour starts with news that his approval rating hit a new low at 39 percent.
Bachmann, Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who placed fourth in the Iowa straw poll, all appeared at the Black Hawk County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner on Sunday night.
While Bachmann often touts her native Iowan roots, she seemed less comfortable talking to Iowans at the event than Perry, according to Politico. Perry, like Santorum, arrived early, walked around the room, and greeted guests at each table as he went. Bachmann, by contrast, displayed a more “rock star” like approach at the event. She stayed in her tour bus until it was time for her to speak. She walked onto stage with intense lighting and music blaring. After the speech, she did not take questions from the audience. She stayed on the stage, rather than mingling with the crowd, to sign t-shirts, and left surrounded by her entourage.
Perry sat in the audience during Bachmann's speech and politely clapped for her. After his speech, he took questions from the audience and continued to rub elbows with attendees afterward.
Perry’s decades of retail politicking were more than evident on his first day in the Hawkeye state.
Though Perry does not share Bachmann's Iowa roots, he has decades of experience in the retail politics of small towns and rural counties in Texas, as his performance at Sunday's dinner showed. Bachmann, on the other hand, showed little understanding of the expectations Iowans have of presidential candidates. Several of those in attendance told Politico that they were disappointed in her performance.
“She kept us waiting, she was not here mixing-then she was talking about what a great evening it was. How do you know? You just got here,” said Karen Vanderkrol, of Hudson, Iowa, “She can say she’s real and part of the people, but that’s not what we do.”
On Monday, Perry said on an Iowa radio broadcast that he supports subsidies or tax breaks for Iowa farmers, according to Politico's Ben Smith. The issue of corn subsidies may help Perry with Iowa voters, but will be controversial with some Republicans and economic conservatives.
Economic conservatives generally believe that the government should not interfere in the private sector by privileging certain industries or companies over others with government handouts or special tax breaks. Indeed, Perry's position would seem to be in opposition to his philosophy of less government intervention.
During a stump speech in Iowa on Monday, Perry said, “government get out of the way, let the private sector do what the private sector knows how to do.” If Iowa farmers continue receiving government subsidies or tax breaks, however, then the federal government would certainly be interfering in the private sector.
The US Senate passed a bill this year that would reduce ethanol subsidies, much of which goes to corn farmers. The House has yet to act on the bill.
Perry also tried connecting with Iowans by emphasizing his rural, farming and religious roots.
“I grew up on a farm. My dad was a dry-land cotton farmer. You wanna know how I learned my faith? Be a dry-land cotton farmer and you understand that you're gonna spend a lot of time asking the good Lord to do somethin' on the weather side of things. ... This is like goin' home for me. Rural, small town, farming and ranching people are some of the great backbones of America, and it's men and women like you who still believe in this country, who still believe America is exceptional,” Perry said.
Obama also got into campaign mode with a three-day Midwestern bus tour that began in Illinois and will end in Minnesota. He stopped in Iowa on Monday, the same day that Perry and Bachmann toured the state.
In Decorah, Iowa, Obama, wearing khakis, shirtsleeves and no tie, gave a stump speech where he blamed Republicans for budget deficits.
“We could solve this problem tomorrow. I put a deal before Speaker of the House John Boehner that would have solved this problem, and he walked away because of his belief was we can't ask anything of millionaires and billionaires and big corporations,” Obama said.
Obama was referring to a $4 trillion deal that was being negotiated by Obama and Boehner last month. Boehner had offered $800 billion in revenue increases as part of the negotiation. When Obama countered with $1.2 trillion in revenue increases, Boehner walked away from negotiations.