CEDAR RAPIDS, IA -- Speaking to reporters this afternoon, presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann brushed aside her last-place finish in the Florida Straw Poll. And in a speech before that, she urged voters to consider her ahead of the race's two front-runners, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.
“We can’t settle. We have to have a candidate who has it all,” Bachmann repeatedly said during her speech before a few dozen supporters who gathered at the Best Western Longbranch ballroom. The rhetoric, which appears to reference opponents Perry and Romney, was first used last week when the Minnesota Congresswoman was speaking at GOP events in the Sunshine State.
Asked by NBC to comment on the results of the straw poll -- in which she received just 1.5% of the vote out of eight candidates -- Bachmann said she made a decision to focus instead on last month's Ames Straw Poll, which she won. “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."
Bachmann also said that she permitted her supporters to vote for other candidates. “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,” Bachmann added. “We told all of our supporters in Florida that they were free to vote for anyone else that we wanted because we weren't participating.”
But Bachmann has only spent nine days in Florida since she got into the 2012 race, and Florida GOP officials say she does not have a big ground operation in the state.
“The fact that I don't hear from the campaign means that they don't have any organized staffing from a campaign staff perspective,” Sarasota County GOP Chair Joe Gruters said. "The path to victory is even harder than it was a week ago, as a result of the Tea Party voters in Florida getting behind Herman Cain. But she's still in contention."
The statement released by the Bachmann campaign following her straw poll finish last weekend makes no reference to “releasing” delegates. Instead, the statement focuses on her win in Ames on Aug. 13.
The statement: "Florida is an important state in the presidential race, but we chose not to participate in the P5 Poll which is open to select delegates. We got into the presidential race late and dedicated our resources to the Iowa straw poll which is open to all Iowans with a valid ID; Michele won the Iowa poll with less time and money than the other candidates in the race."
Bachmann told reporters today she's happy where her campaign is now despite losing in Florida.
“We're positioned perfectly,” she said.