As Tim Pawlenty grabbed the morning’s headlines by dropping out of the Republican presidential primary campaign, his fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who won the Iowa straw poll on Saturday, made a victory lap on all of the major Sunday morning talk shows.
Pawlenty went public with his exit in an appearance on ABC’s This Week, while Bachmann made the rounds on that program and the four other shows. She spoke graciously of the former Minnesota governor despite a series of testy exchanges between the two candidates on the campaign trail.
“I wish him well,” she said on Fox News Sunday. “I have great respect for the governor.”
But the big question that came up on all the shows was Bachmann’s viability as a candidate, particularly compared to GOP rivals with executive experience such as front-runner Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who entered the race on Saturday.
What sets her apart from her gubernatorial rivals, she said, is that she has been “at the tip of the spear” in the fiscal battles that have recently rocked Washington, leading the charge against raising the debt ceiling.
“What made Ronald Reagan great wasn’t his experience as a governor, it was his core set of principles,” she said on Fox News Sunday.
Bachmann held fast to her own fiscal principles on Sunday, when asked about extending unemployment benefits in the face of persistently high jobless numbers.
“Right now I don’t think we can afford it,” she said on Meet the Press.
On CNN’s State of the Union, Bachmann said she’s settled for legislative compromises before – but only on small issues.
“On big issues I don't compromise,” she said. “I don't compromise my core sense of principles. But I've taken thousands of votes in Congress. And I'm sure that there's areas where the bills aren't perfect, but you vote for them.”
Bachmann did make a seemingly conciliatory nod on social issues. In response to questions about whether she might nominate an openly gay person or an atheist to high office, she said she would not use such litmus tests.
“Where do you stand on the Constitution? Are you competent? And do you share my views? That’s my criteria,” she said on Meet the Press. “I am not out asking any other questions.”
Alex Roarty contributed