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Bachmann tells supporters she's staying in the race

Michele Bachmann speaks to supporters in Iowa after a poor showing in caucus votes, reiterating her criticisms of President Obama.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachman told a room of about 65 supporters Tuesday that she’s staying in the race for president, despite her weak showing in the Iowa caucuses.

“The pundits and the press will again try and pick the nominee based on tonight’s results, but there are many more chapters to be written on the path to our party’s nomination,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann finished last in the caucuses, with 5 per cent of the vote, bookending a journey in Iowa that was marked by an early surge in polls, and a win in August at the state Republican Party’s straw poll.

Despite the stunning reversal of fortune, Bachmann pressed her case Tuesday as a “fearless conservative,” with “no compromises” on key issues, including cutting spending and “standing with our ally, Israel.”

“I believe that I am that true conservative who can and who will defeat Barack Obama in 2012,” Bachmann said.

Joshua Lott / Reuters

Republican presidential candidate and Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on the Iowa campaign trail

Her remarks capped a tense evening inside a Marriott hotel ballroom, where a thin crowd of supporters watched returns come in on a large television monitor, while campaign staff sat on a sofa in the hallway, tapping messages on smart phones.

“We’re disappointed, but we’re very proud of Michele, because she sticks to her core principles,” said Rich Heki, a Bachmann supporter, and the husband of a member the campaign’s Iowa staff.

Bachmann spent the early evening in her childhood city of Cedar Falls, where she addressed voters at Iowa’s largest caucus location, on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. 

Earlier, she dropped in to an MTV “Rock the Caucus” event at a high school here in West Des Moines, where she answered questions from reporters.

Asked if she would continue past Iowa in the event of a disappointing finish in the caucuses, Bachmann set her sights on South Carolina.

“We're confident – that's why we bought our tickets for South Carolina,” Bachmann said.  “We're moving on, and we're moving forward.  Because this election is far from over.  This is the opening chapter.”

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