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Michele Bachmann pledges to boycott Nevada caucuses

October 14, 2011|By Seema Mehta | Los Angeles Times
  • Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann campaigns in Denison, Iowa, on Thursday.
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann campaigns in Denison,… (Nati Harnik / Associated…)

Reporting from Sioux City, Iowa — GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann said she would boycott the Nevada caucuses because of the Silver State’s plan to hold its contest in mid-January, a move that could force New Hampshire to hold its first-in-the-nation primary in December.

“We’re supporting New Hampshire’s effort to be the first primary in the nation,” Bachmann said Thursday after speaking to students at Morningside College.

An aide later clarified that the Minnesota congresswoman meant that she would not take part in the caucuses, but would be at Tuesday’s debate in Las Vegas. Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum said earlier in the day that they would not compete in the Nevada caucuses.

Huntsman's campaign said Friday that he would also boycott the debate.

Bachmann made the remarks as she kicked off a three-day swing through the northwestern corner of Iowa, an effort to regain her footing in  the GOP contest. She surged after entering the race in June and won the Straw Poll in Ames, but has floundered in the polls since then, eclipsed first by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and then by pizza businessman Herman Cain.

Bachmann was unusually punctual to the two events she held Thursday, and she stopped to greet every potential voter at a Denison rally, held in the parking lot of a golf course, and at the college here. But she seemed tentative, turning to her aides to find out whether she could answer questions about Nevada or her fundraising.

Bachmann, who is known as a prodigious small-dollar fundraiser, said she was “extremely delighted” with her third-quarter haul. About 92,000 donors gave an average of $42, her campaign reported, which would amount to a about $4 million over three months.

“We’ve got a movement,” she said.

At her first event, the rally in Denison in front of about 40 people, Bachmann touted her economic proposals. But she implied that taxes are higher now than when she grew up in Iowa, which is untrue.

“How many of you think that the taxes are too high in the United States, we got any takers on that?” she said as the crowd roared in approval. “I thought Iowans would feel that way. I grew up in this wonderful state and I’ll tell you, the tax rate was completely different years ago from what it is now, wasn’t it? They’re very high.”

In 2011, a married couple filing jointly would pay 35% of their income in taxes if they earned more than $379,150 in annual taxable income, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. Fifty years ago, when Bachmann was a child in the state, the same couple (with their income adjusted for inflation) would have paid 59%. The lowest federal tax bracket is also half today what it was then.

In Sioux City,  speaking in front of a crowd of college students of mixed political backgrounds, Bachmann studiously avoided her typical full-throated critiques of President Obama, instead portraying her candidacy as based on her concern about their future.

She deftly handled some unfriendly grilling about increasing domestic energy production from Charles Bass, a sophomore majoring in studio art, religion and philosophy. He remained unimpressed, but said it probably doesn’t matter. The self-described “anarcho-socialist” doesn’t vote, because elections “condone” the government’s powers.

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