Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 01/01/2012

Bachmann: Iowa chairman’s defection shows her ‘momentum’

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who has plummeted to last place in the latest Des Moines Register poll of likely GOP caucus-goers, said Sunday that the defection of her Iowa chairman to Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) camp is an illustration of her “momentum.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Of course not,” Bachmann told ABC’s Jake Tapper on Sunday when asked whether it was politically risky for her to allege that her former state chairman, Kent Sorenson, was offered compensation by the Paul campaign in exchange for his support. “What this shows is the tremendous momentum that we have out of the last debate. From person after person, they said that I won the last debate in Sioux City, Iowa.”

Paul’s camp has denied Bachmann’s allegations and maintains that it is not paying Sorenson.

Polls suggest that Bachmann’s campaign is indeed gaining momentum, but perhaps not in the direction she would like. She got only 7 percent in Saturday’s Iowa survey, a dramatic shift from four months ago, when she swept the Ames Straw Poll.

“I think the polls take a few days to catch up,” Bachmann told Tapper when asked about her campaign’s precipitous drop. “And we have made that incredible deposit of going in every single county. We’ve drawn 300 people at a stop, 250 people at a stop, and I think a lot of that isn’t yet reflected in the polls. And the main thing will be on Tuesday night.”

Bachmann also argued that it’s Paul’s campaign – not hers – that will experience defections on Tuesday.

“People will be very surprised at the results on Tuesday night, because I think people will see a lot of defections away from Ron Paul because they see -- especially with the aggressive nature of the actions on the part of Iran in the Straits of Hormuz, people are seeing how important it is that we have a commander-in-chief who is conversant, prepared, knowledgeable, and has good judgment on foreign affairs,” she said. “And of all of the candidates in the race, I’m best suited for that portion, of being commander-in- chief.”

Bachmann, who recently completed a tour of all 99 Iowa counties, received positive reviews from several Iowa voters at campaign events for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (R) over the weekend. But those voters, many of whom mentioned her name unprompted, were quick to add that they were unlikely to back the Minnesota Republican because they believed she was not yet ready for prime-time.

Bachmann has previously said that the Hawkeye State is a must-win for her campaign. So, if she comes in last, will she drop out?

She declined to answer that question directly on Sunday. But she did maintain that she intends to proceed to the later nominating contests and face President Obama in the fall – the chances of which would appear to be slim if Bachmann does not perform well on Tuesday.

”Well, we’ve bought tickets to head off to South Carolina,” she said. “And we are looking forward to the debates. January is a very full month. We’re here for the long race. This is a 50-state race. And we intend to participate not only in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, but to go all the way, because I intend to be the Republican nominee and defeat Barack Obama in 2012.”

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By  |  12:30 PM ET, 01/01/2012

 
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