Michele Bachmann speaks during the Republican presidential candidates… (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images )
Michele Bachmann made her big splash at a New Hampshire debate in June. When the candidates gathered again to spar in Iowa last month, she had sufficiently risen to top-tier status that she drew repeated fire from Tim Pawlenty.
So it was remarkable to see the Minnesota congresswoman relegated to an afterthought Wednesday, getting barely as much face time as Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
It can all be traced to the entrance of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who emerged as an official candidate just as Bachmann was crowned the winner of the Ames Straw Poll.
So much has Perry taken the oxygen out of Bachmann's campaign that Mitt Romney, who had largely ignored the other GOP candidates in past joint appearances, seemed eager to mix it up with the newest candidate on the stage instead of President Obama, his previous target.
Bachmann also didn't draw a question from the moderators until after Jon Huntsman, Cain and Santorum had a chance to answer one.
When she did get a chance, Bachmann was the one focusing on Obama, rather than her GOP rivals. She repeated her attacks on the president's healthcare law, pledging to repeal "Obamacare."
She later attacked the president over the high cost of energy. Ultimately, she was the one who discussed what will be Thursday's top story in the 2012 campaign: Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress.
"I think tomorrow night, when the nation tunes in to the president, I'm afraid that we won't be seeing a permanent solution. I'm afraid what we'll be seeing are temporary gimmicks and more of the same that he's given before," she said.
A Los Angeles Times poll this week found Bachmann in fourth place among Republican voters, while Romney and Perry were tied for the lead.