(AP/The Huffington Post) CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Eclipsed by Rick Perry, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann dismissed concerns on Monday about the strength of her campaign and told supporters that she alone has the best conservative credentials to be president.
"I've got the complete skill set to do this job," she told roughly 35 people in a half-full hotel ballroom on a rainy day.
When asked by NBC News about her eighth place finish in the Florida straw poll last weekend, Bachmann downplayed the results of the competition, which was won by former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain. The conservative congresswoman locked up roughly 1.5 percent of the vote in the event.
Bachmann explained, “We put our effort and our money and our time here in Iowa in the straw poll because this straw poll in Iowa was crucial." She added, "We had let it be known early on, and we released our supporters in Florida because there are straw polls all across the country right now."
While in the Hawkeye State, Bachmann repeatedly urged people not to settle on a moderate candidate who is seen as better able to cobble together the diverse coalition of voters needed to beat President Barack Obama.
"This message has to be driven home by conservatives: We can't settle. We can't settle. We have to have a candidate who has it all," she said. "Who is a fiscal conservative, and I am. Who is a national security -- peace through strength conservative -- like Ronald Reagan was. And I am. And we have to have someone who is a social conservative, who believes in the family. And I do. And we need a Tea Party conservative, and I am."
While she didn't name any of her rivals, she suggested some of them could not be trusted to repeal Obama's health care law. She also suggested they did not understand foreign policy as well as she does and that they were compromised because they had done favors for political donors, comments apparently directed at Perry, the Texas governor competing with her for voters in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses next year.
The three-term Minnesota congresswoman has struggled since winning the Iowa straw poll in August -- the same day that Perry got into the race and took away some of her support among conservatives. She once sat atop national public opinion polls but now only registers single-digit support.
Bachmann thanked the people who showed up and seemed to try to justify the relatively light attendance.
"I know it was short notice," she said, "it's in the middle of the day, everyone's at work, it's a rainy day, there's a lot of places you can be." She shook nearly every hand in the room and signed autographs.
She dismissed suggestions that her campaign was floundering, saying voters would pick the nominee, not the news media. And she said she believes she is "positioned perfectly right now" to compete for the nomination because conservatives are looking for someone with her fiery message and record of opposing Obama.
Among those in attendance was Leon Hartogh of Marion, a 74-year-old retired golf course superintendent and self-described Tea Party conservative. He said he was not entirely happy with the GOP field and wanted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who professes no plans to run for president in 2012, to enter the campaign. He said he likes Bachmann the best "in the field that's out there now" and that any of the Republicans could defeat Obama.
"I like her stand on everything. She just talks the talk," he said.
During an appearance on Fox News, Bachmann suggested she has what it takes to bounce back in the GOP primary race, making note of her performance in the Ames Straw Poll once again.
"Then, of course, Governor Perry came into the race and there was an assumption that he was going to walk away with the nomination, but now there’s a re-look at that," she explained. "People are looking after the debate and they’re saying that they think now they need to look for their champion and I am the constitutional conservative in this race and I’m running to be the people’s champion and their voice in the White House."
In an interview with Iowa-based station KCCI Bachmann said, "I think we are about to see a second rebirth politically, you might say, and a new bounce and we are looking forward to that." She said in a separate radio interview that the race for the Republican presidential nomination is "rejiggering."
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