By BRIAN BAKST, Associated Press
URBANDALE, Iowa -- Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann faces low expectations in Iowa's caucuses, where a poor showing could effectively doom her campaign.
Once seen as the candidate to beat in the state's leadoff nomination contest, the Minnesota congresswoman planned to make her final appeal for support Tuesday at a caucus site in Blackhawk County, where she spent the first years of her life. Her schedule ahead of the night's voting was packed with interviews on Iowa airwaves and with conservative radio shows nationally.Every recent poll put Bachmann in last place heading into the caucuses, a far cry from her summer win in a state GOP straw poll. But top campaign advisers vowed she would prove the recent surveys wrong by activating a support network built through her visits to small towns and churches in every corner of Iowa.
"All the seeds we have sown are about to be harvested," Bachmann told a rally for volunteers outside her headquarters Monday night.
On Fox News Channel Tuesday morning, Bachmann said: "I think there's a lot of soft, hidden support that's going to come out tonight for the caucuses. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised."
The campaign sent emails to Republicans in all 99 counties with Bachmann issuing a tailored greeting while surrounded by locals. Her state chairman, Iowa state Sen. Brad Zaun, said there hadn't been any "what if" conversations should the vote bear out the poll numbers.
Even after a grueling few weeks, Bachmann projected no outward signs of defeat. She exhibited her usual pep and smiled continually throughout a 6,000-plus-mile, 10-day sprint through Iowa, including stops where crowds were thin.
And she told Fox on Tuesday that she wouldn't stop campaigning if she came up short in Iowa. Noting the GOP race's "fluidity," she said: "We're going to see a lot more changes. It's not over."
Looking forward to the first Southern primary, on Jan. 21, Bachmann added: "We've brought our tickets already for South Carolina. We're going. We're moving forward."