VALLEY JUNCTION, Iowa — Michele Bachmann finally joined the Iowa television ad fray Monday, pushing her hometown connection and saying she stood up to President Barack Obama as other Republicans "were cutting deals" with the Democrat.
It was a late start for an ad campaign as Iowa Republicans head to caucuses on Tuesday. She's trailing badly.
The native-daughter theme also permeated a door-to-door walk by Bachmann through a quaint business district outside Des Moines.
An adviser said her ad was airing on Fox cable stations and NBC affiliates across Iowa instead of a full-range purchase, a clear sign she is low on cash. She had a more visible TV ad presence before a nonbinding test vote she won this summer.
The ad twice mentions Bachmann's Iowa heritage and calls her "one of our own." It talks of her background as a federal tax attorney – she worked to collect debts for the IRS – and describes her as a "consistent conservative fighter" who won't back down.
Bachmann was born in Waterloo but later moved with her family to Minnesota, where she was elected to Congress in 2006.
While campaigning Monday, Bachmann stressed her native-state status.
"I believe without a shadow of a doubt that Iowans want to get behind their values and I believe I best represent their values," she said after fighting her way through thick crowds at some businesses.
Addressing reporters, she contrasted herself with her opponents and lobbed her hardest shot yet at Rick Santorum. The former Pennsylvania senator has rocketed to contender status while she has remained at the back of the GOP field, recent polls show.
Bachmann criticized Santorum for supporting a symbol of wasteful Washington spending, Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere." She also jabbed him for once endorsing Sen. Arlen Specter, then a fellow Pennsylvania Republican who joined the Democratic Party in 2009. "Arlen Specter supplied the 60th vote that gave us Obamacare and gave us taxpayer-funded abortions. I never would have supported Arlen Specter, who is a pro-abortion candidate," she said.
Bachmann has bet her success on support among evangelical Christian voters and said she expects full congregations to caucus on her behalf.
She insists she'll go on no matter what happens Tuesday night. She and her top campaign advisers have tickets to South Carolina – opting to head there rather than New Hampshire, which votes one week from Tuesday, on Jan. 10. The Bachmann team will fly commercial rather than on chartered flights like other campaigns with more money at their disposal.
Supporters who greeted her Monday said they weren't giving up hope for a strong finish.
Larry and Mary Abbott, retirees from Des Moines, said they intended to caucus for Bachmann no matter what the polls reflect.
"I think the polls are wrong," Larry Abbott said.
The Abbotts said they were getting daily contacts from the campaign and were confident in her chances.
"People are going to be surprised," he said.
"I hope they are," added Mary Abbott.