WEST DES MOINES, Iowa –- Before a handful of supporters and members of her Iowa staff, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann today announced that she’s dropping out of the presidential race, the morning after a disappointing finish in the Iowa caucuses.
“Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice,” Bachmann said. “And so I have decided to stand aside.”
She finished in sixth-place in the caucuses, a stunning reversal of fortune for a candidate whose early surge in polls propelled her to victory in the state’s straw poll, less than five months ago.
But Bachmann’s support had steadily waned since that win in August, despite efforts large and small to win Iowa voters. Only last week, Bachmann finished a grueling, 11-day bus tour of the state’s 99 counties.
And from the start, Bachmann emphasized having grown up here in Iowa, where she said she learned about simple values, such as thrift and plain-talk.
“I came here to this wonderful state of Iowa,” Bachmann said this morning, of her presidential run. “I had just one message. To tell you that I mean what I say, and I say what I mean.”
As if to prove her point, Bachmann’s remarks this morning re-iterated much of her stump message, casting her fight against President Obama’s national health-care law in grand, historical terms.
Referring to a painting hanging in the U.S. Capitol depicting the signing of the Constitution, Bachmann said the “poignant reminder” of our “fragile republic” called her to action during the 2010 debate over health care. The evening the bill was passed, Bachmann said, she decided to run for president.
“I ran because I believe that since Day 1, Barack Obama's policies, based on socialism, are destructive to the very foundation of the republic,” she added, using an attack on President Obama she had debuted only weeks ago, as part of her closing argument to Iowans.
Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, and much of her family -– including her mother, her three brothers, and her five children –- joined her on stage. The event, brief and low key, followed several frantic hours of media activity after reporters were instructed early this morning to return to the same West Des Moines ballroom where last night Bachmann had told supporters she would fight on.
The campaign’s scheduled trip to South Carolina had clearly been put on hold.
Sources close to the campaign say the candidate huddled with top staffers aboard her bus late into last night, but the decision was ultimately hers alone.
“It’s a very big decision, and she made it,” a top staffer said. “All on her terms.”