Bachmann fires back at Pawlenty's comments on her record

michele bachmann and tim pawlenty
Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty

The Ames Straw Poll is just three weeks away, and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has decided she won't let Tim Pawlenty chip away at her lead in Iowa before the potential game-changer.

The Minnesota congresswoman released a set of statements on Sunday tearing apart Pawlenty's record as former governor of Minnesota and comparing him to President Obama.

Pawlenty, who is trailing behind Bachmann and other GOP presidential candidates in the polls, has repeatedly criticized Bachmann's experience and qualifications. On CNN Friday, Pawlenty said, "These are really serious times and there hasn't been somebody who went [directly] from the U.S. House of Representatives to the presidency, I think, in over a hundred years, and there's a reason for that."

Bachmann hit back with a statement Sunday that these are serious times that call for "serious solutions -- not more of the same."

"Governor Pawlenty said in 2006, 'The era of small government is over... the government has to be more proactive and more aggressive.' That's the same philosophy that, under President Obama, has brought us record deficits, massive unemployment, and an unconstitutional health care plan," she said.

Bachmann compared Pawlenty's positions on issues like health care and cap and trade to Mr. Obama's positions. She also compared his history as a politician to her past as a tax litigation attorney, calling her record a "record of action."

A spokesman for Pawlenty told news outlets that Bachmann "has her facts wrong" and there is "very little difference" between the two Minnesota Republicans on most issues.

Bachmann's spokesperson Alice Stewart subsequently released a statement once again tying Pawlenty's record on issues like health care to Mr. Obama's.

"Governor Pawlenty has changed his positions in recent years, but he can't run from his big government record as governor of Minnesota that left the state's budget in a multi-billion dollar mess," she said.

The back-and-forth comes ahead of the August 13 Ames Straw Poll, an influential poll of Iowa Republicans that could change the trajectory of the campaign. Bachmann has so far performed well in polls in Iowa, the first state to get its say about the parties' presidential candidates. Pawlenty has been gunning for Iowa support, which could give fresh momentum to his campaign, which has lagged not only in the polls, but in fundraising as well.