Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told a national television audience Sunday that 2012 presidential rival Michele Bachmann has a "nonexistent" record of accomplishment in Congress.
Echoing a contrast he has begun making against his fellow Minnesota Republican, who has jumped up in the polls in recent weeks, Pawlenty told NBC’s Meet the Press that Bachmann has little to show in her three terms in the U.S. House.
“I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I've campaigned for her, I respect her,” Pawlenty said. “But her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent. It's nonexistent. And so we're not looking for folks who, you know, just have speech capabilities, we're looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I've done that, she hasn't.”
Bachmann, responding to Pawlenty’s attack Sunday, pointed to her record as a “leading voice fighting against Obamacare” and a host of White House economic initiatives, including the economic stimulus package.
"People can count on me as a fighter,” she said. “I am proud of my record of fighting with resolve, and without apology, for our free markets, for sane fiscal policies, and in opposition to the advancement of the big government left.”
Pawlenty also said that polls showing him lagging far behind Bachmann and front-runner Mitt Romney are premature and “not a good indicator of anything.”
Reacting to news accounts suggesting he might be the first GOP candidate to drop out, Pawlenty told host David Gregory, “I just announced my campaign six weeks ago, so I think it's a little early for that.”
And looking ahead to Iowa, where many analysts give Bachmann a strong chance of winning, Pawlenty said “I think we'll have a campaign that's going to be prevailing, not just in the straw poll, but in the Iowa caucuses and beyond.”