The GOP presidential candidate pool changed the tone of their debate performances from generally cordial, when they were in New Hampshire, to downright snippy when they were all on stage in Ames, Iowa on Thursday evening.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann took their current campaign war in a face to face battle.
“The Minnesota Twins,” as Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey aptly called the two mid-western Republicans in a tweet, compared their political records through brass-knuckled punches. (transcript via FOX):
TIM PAWLENTY, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It’s an indisputable fact that in Congress, the record of accomplishment and results is nonexistent.
MICHELE BACHMANN, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You said the era of small government was over. That sounds a lot more like Barack Obama if you ask me. I have a very consistent record of fighting very hard against Barack Obama and his unconstitutional measures in Congress.
PAWLENTY: She says she’s got a titanium spine. It’s not her spine we’re worried about. It’s her record of results. If that’s your view of effective leadership with results, please stop because you’re killing us.
BACHMANN: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama ran Congress, but I gave them a run for their money.
BACHMANN: I fought. When others ran, I fought.
I spoke with Pawlenty spokesman Nick Ayers after the debate about the rough exchanges between Pawlenty and Bachmann and asked if the tense remarks could backlash against the GOP later when Democrats likely use clips of these exchanges later:
“Not at all. If it didn’t hurt Barack and Hillary, it’s not going to hurt our campaign and the Republican Party. Its good to have a healthy debate,” Mr. Ayers said. “It makes for stronger candidates and a stronger party. It’ll make a stronger nominee to take on Barack Obama”
Bachmann spokesman Ed Goeas seemed uncertain about it, though, telling me: “We’ll have to see. The one thing we feel very strongly about is we documented exactly the positions we said and we handed them out tonight within minutes after the back and forth.