* Two Minnesotans seeking 2012 Republican presidential nod
* Combative Bachmann differs from "nice guy" Pawlenty
* Polls indicate Bachmann picking up support
By Todd Melby
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - They are both from
Minnesota but U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann's combative
style seems to be scoring better than the Midwestern "nice guy"
approach of former governor Tim Pawlenty in the race for the
2012 Republican U.S. presidential nomination.
Bachmann, a third-term U.S. congresswoman from a St. Paul
suburb, announced her presidential intentions during a debate
among seven Republicans in New Hampshire on Monday. She then
confidently predicted that Democrat President Barack Obama
would be a one-term president while bashing him on a range of
In the debate, Pawlenty used his "Minnesota Nice" style and
refrained from criticizing Republican front-runner Mitt Romney
directly, admitting later that he should have been more
A national poll of Republican voters after the debate
found Bachmann had surged into second place at 19 percent,
trailing only Romney. Pawlenty languished in single digits at
only 6 percent, the Rasmussen Reports poll showed.
"She's come a long way, baby," Alice Stewart, spokeswoman
for Bachmann, said Friday. "That's pretty significant
"The way they fight is very different," said Steve Schier,
a Carleton College political scientist in Minnesota. "Pawlenty
has spent most of his time ... trying to govern, whereas
Bachmann is a movement person crusading for a certain agenda."
Pawlenty has bided his time and respected his Republican
elders, attracting big campaign donors and coming off as
comparatively moderate. Bachmann is a firebrand who has bucked
the party establishment and mostly draws smaller
"They couldn't be more different in terms of style and
political substance," said Craig Robinson, editor of the Iowa
Both Pawlenty and Bachmann are focused on the
first-in-the-nation Republican caucuses in neighboring Iowa
early next year -- a key early test in the race for the
Republican nomination. In Iowa, drawing support from the
party's right wing and evangelical Christians can make or break
a presidential candidate.
Pawlenty chose Iowa to announce his candidacy last month,
hired more than a dozen staffers and consultants, and has made
16 trips to the state since 2009.
Bachmann spent her early childhood in Waterloo, Iowa.
Pawlenty's appeal is to mainstream Republicans, much like
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor.
Bachmann is a favorite of the conservative Tea Party
movement has support among grassroots activists, much like that
of Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee,
whose presidential intentions are unclear.
Iowa state Senator Kent Sorenson said Pawlenty courted him,
but he chose to lead Bachmann's Iowa effort. "He's a decent
enough guy but I wanted a full-spectrum conservative. I didn't
get that from anyone other than Michele," Sorenson said.
In a pitch perhaps aimed at Tea Party followers, Pawlenty
unveiled an economic agenda heavy on tax cuts that eliminated
some tax deductions and government subsidies.
Criticized for lacking charisma on the stump, Pawlenty has
vowed to speak hard truths. Bachmann seems to energize
"She gets people fired up," said Andrew Hemingway, chairman
of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire.
Pawlenty argues he is the one candidate who can unite the
party. "I can put the whole coalition together," Pawlenty says
in his matter-of-fact, gentle way.
The two also have contrasting fundraising approaches.
Pawlenty has hit up big-money donors in Dallas, Chicago and
Minneapolis -- raking in $200,000 or more per event. Bachmann
focuses on small donors with 75 percent of contributions to her
political action committee less than $200. Still, Bachmann's
"money bomb" drive last month raised $250,000 in two days.
Pawlenty contemplated a run for governor a decade ago, but
top Republicans said they wanted someone else. So he explored a
bid against Democratic U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone in 2002, but
then-Vice President Dick Cheney told him to stand down.
Pawlenty grumbled about the "integrity of the process" but
obeyed, and was elected governor in 2002.
By contrast, Bachmann does not seem to care what party
insiders think. In a state contest, she wrestled the party
endorsement away from the incumbent, thumped him in the primary
and cruised to victory.
Some of Bachmann's speeches have upset party leaders,
including her unsanctioned rebuttal to President Barack Obama's
State of the Union address in January.
(Editing by Andrew Stern, Greg McCune and Eric Walsh)
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