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Michele Bachmann defends record after Tim Pawlenty barbs in GOP debate [Video]

August 12, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann appears on NBC's "Today" show to talk about Thursday's GOP debate.
Rep. Michele Bachmann appears on NBC's "Today" show to… (NBC News )

Michele Bachmann on Friday defended her record in Washington  after withering attacks from GOP rival Tim Pawlenty in the Iowa Republican debate Thursday night.

"Her record of accomplishments and results is non-existent," Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, said during the forum in Ames.

Not so, the Minnesota congresswoman said. During an interview with NBC's "Today" show, Bachmann said she's been "the leading voice, almost the lone voice in the wilderness of Washington" on issues like the debt ceiling.

Photos: Scenes From Iowa - Republicans at the State Fair

Until this year, she was in the minority party in Congress, when Nancy Pelosi was speaker and Democrats controlled the House and the Senate.

"Obviously they weren't interested in my pro-growth agenda. But that's when you fight. ... And I've been the champion for the voice of people who've been crying for Washington to stop spending so much money and to reduce taxes," she said. (See video below.)

The Pawlenty-Bachmann spat was the standout moment of Thursday's debate, representing the broader shift of Republican candidates focusing their attacks on one another, rather than exclusively against President Obama.

The Pawlenty campaign tried to spin after the debate that Bachmann was the aggressor.

"We were surprised," campaign manager Nick Ayers said. "We came to talk about our record. She came to pick a fight."

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, kept his head above the fray. He took more heat from the Republicans on stage than at the last forum in June, but benefited by the skirmishing from those trying to break out from the middle of the pack.

Doing so will only get more difficult in the days ahead. Sarah Palin is set to cast a shadow over the straw poll festivities this weekend in Iowa as she resumes her "One Nation" bus tour. And Rick Perry officially tosses his hat into the ring this weekend, something that drew more attention from the Obama campaign Friday morning.

David Axelrod, a senior strategist for the president's re-election campaign, said he was looking forward to scrutiny of the Texas governor's record.

"When you examine the entire record what’s happened to education in that state, what’s happened to healthcare in that state, it’s a record of decimation, not of progress," Axelrod told ABC's "Good Morning America," responding to Perry's attacks on Obama's record on jobs.

James Oliphant contributed to this report from Ames, Iowa.  Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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