2012 GOP primary spotlight shines on Bachmann

Bachmann leaves a closed Republican Conference Meeting on the budget negotiations April 8, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Obama administration and congressional Republicans reached a deal late that night to avert a government shutdown.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Iowa caucuses are still more than 7 months away, but for those Republicans who want to be president, an early test came this weekend.

The results of the first Iowa GOP straw poll of campaign 2012 are in. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came in first, winning by just one point over Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Businessman Herman Cain was third.

Bachmann's strong showing comes on the eve of a big day for her campaign, but today she faced some tough questions.

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CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford reports that Bachmann was expected to do well in Iowa. She was born there in Waterloo.

The Des Moines Register poll, showing her at the top of the field with Gov. Mitt Romney, was released before she's even started her campaign in earnest, and will surely give her a boost. The question is whether this "Queen of the Tea Party" can attract a wide base of support across the entire Republican Party.

"We're gratified, but we know it's still a long road ahead. It's a marathon, not a sprint," Bachmann says.

On the Sunday talk show circuit, including a stop on CBS' Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, she continued to blame the country's economic troubles on the President.

"This is the Obama deficit, Obama debt, due to Obama spending," Bachmann says.

The former tax attorney says she won't vote to raise the debt limit, saying the dire economic predictions for failing to do so are "scare tactics."

"I am not willing to vote to let the government continue to borrow money that we don't have and put us in a worse situation. One year from now, we'll be back, having this same conversation," Bachmann says.

A mother of five who also helped raise 23 foster children, Bachmann's frustration with local education policy led her into politics.

She is unapologetically conservative on social issues. She opposes abortion and as a state senator led the fight against gay marriage.

On the national stage, she has taken heat for some of her comments, especially when she told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that she believes Obama has some "anti-American" views.

Bob Schieffer asked her about it Sunday morning, and she admitted that there are "a lot of things I wish I would have said differently, of course."

After kicking off her campaign in Iowa on Monday, Bachmann will be off to New Hampshire and South Carolina, two other key states. But to keep this momentum going here in Iowa, she'll be back Friday for a four-day bus tour, hoping to build on those poll numbers.

  • Jan Crawford
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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.