Michele Bachmann’s migraines may be under control, but she’s doing her best to pass them on to Tim Pawlenty instead. The Tea Party icon slammed the former Minnesota governor in a series of statements on Monday, comparing his policies to President Obama’s.
“Actions speak louder than words,” she said. “When I was fighting against the unconstitutional individual mandate in healthcare, Governor Pawlenty was praising it. I have fought against irresponsible spending while Governor Pawlenty was leaving a multi-billion-dollar budget mess in Minnesota. I fought cap-and-trade. Governor Pawlenty backed cap-and-trade when he was Governor of Minnesota and put Minnesota into the multi-state Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. While Governor Pawlenty was praising TARP — the $700 billion bailout in 2008 — I worked tirelessly against it and voted against it.”
Bachmann’s outburst did not come out of the blue: Pawlenty has been baiting her for weeks with a series of attacks aimed at knocking her off her frontrunner perch in must-win Iowa. While his criticisms primarily focused on her lack of accomplishments in Congress and her dearth of executive experience, Pawlenty upped the ante last week by becoming the only presidential candidate to suggest his rival’s chronic migraines — a very sensitive subject for Team Bachmann — were potentially disqualifying. He has since walked those comments back somewhat.
In her statement, Bachmann explicitly rebutted Pawlenty’s claims that his record as governor made him the more qualified candidate.
“Executive experience is not an asset if it simply means bigger and more intrusive government,” she said. “Governor Pawlenty said in 2006, ‘The era of small government is over… the government has to be more proactive and more aggressive.’ That’s the same philosophy that, under President Obama, has brought us record deficits, massive unemployment, and an unconstitutional health care plan.”
Politically, it’s not clear what Bachmann’s going for. Pawlenty has barely registered in polling so far and by unleashing her full clip at the governor, she elevates him as a legitimate contender right as we was starting to fade from view. Bachmann’s campaign manager Ed Rollins suggested that Pawlenty may have simply pushed her too far, telling the Washington Post she “just [got] tired of [Pawlenty] taking cheap shots… Even if he’s at 2 percent in the polls, we are not going to let anyone take free shots at us.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.