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Bachmann, Pawlenty challenge each other in debate

AMES, Iowa — Fellow Minnesotans Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann directly challenged each other during Thursday's GOP debate in Iowa, with Pawlenty calling her a failure and Bachmann likening her Republican competitor to President Barack Obama.

The two sparred face-to-face just two days before Saturday's crucial early test vote in Ames. The exchange began with a question whether the two have pushed the limit of civility, known as "Minnesota nice," and quickly proved the two were eager to cast the other as an unacceptable Republican alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney.

Pawlenty said Bachmann wrongly considers herself a success, given her failures to block laws in the House such as the health overhaul and the debt ceiling increase. He also said she exaggerates her record and offers illogical answers to some answers.

"If that's your record of results, please stop, because you're killing us," he said. "Leading and failing is not the objective."

Bachmann said Pawlenty pushed an environmental overhaul similar to the Democrats' effort, a mandate for health care coverage and for bigger government spending. "That sounds a lot like Barack Obama to me," she said.


Bachmann also said Pawlenty forced her to choose between her anti-tax beliefs and her opposition to abortion. When she was in the state legislature, she supported a bill that both raised taxes on cigarettes and strengthened restrictions on abortion rights. "I believe you can get money wrong, but you can't get life wrong," she said.

"It was a choice," she said. "The governor put us in that box and I chose to protect human life."

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