Fresh off of her victory in the Iowa Straw Poll, Rep. Michele Bachmann said today she has broader appeal beyond a Tea Party and social conservative base, and that she can compete on a national stage with other Republican candidates and with President Barack Obama.
"Everywhere I've gone, all across Iowa, there isn't an event that I do that I don't have people come up who say that, 'Michele, I'm a Democrat, and I'm voting for you,' 'I'm an independent, and I'm voting for you,'" Bachmann said on "This Week." "And I think it's because I'm talking about what people really care about, and that's turning the economy around and job creation.
"I think what people see in me is that I'm a real person. I'm authentic," Bachmann said. "And they want someone who's going to go to Washington and represent their values. ... That's really what you saw here in Iowa in the straw poll yesterday. You saw a big message sent to Washington."
Bachmann took first place Saturday in the straw poll, with 28 percent of the nearly 17,000 votes cast. That was enough to beat close challenger Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who finished with 27 percent of the vote.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty finished a distant third at 13 percent, more than 2,500 votes behind Bachmann, leading him to drop out of the race. Bachmann wished Pawlenty well, saying he had been a "very good competitor."
"I have great respect for the governor," Bachmann said. "We've known each other for a long, long time. And he brought a really important voice into this race."
The straw poll is an early test of organizational strength and voter support, and since 1987, the first or second-place finisher has gone on to win the Iowa Caucus. Bachmann said her campaign will try to build on the win to move forward as a national campaign.
"I think every day going forward we'll take a look at what's happening with strategy, but our main strategy is to win. Obama is my strategy," Bachmann said. "I intend to be the nominee of the Republican Party and to take him on and to defeat him in 2012."
While Bachmann was winning over the Iowa faithful, a new challenger, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, announced his entry into the presidential contest Saturday in a speech in Charleston, S.C.
Despite just entering the race, Perry garnered 718 write-in votes in the Ames Straw Poll, putting him in sixth place, ahead of GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, who did not campaign in the contest.
Perry and Bachmann appeal to some of the same core social conservative and Tea Party voters, but Bachmann said she will be able to compete with the two-term governor, saying she has "been in Washington fighting the fights" on issues such as the debt ceiling and repealing Obama's health care law.
"I think that's what I've demonstrated, is that I have a core set of principles that I believe in. I'll fight for them," Bachmann said. "That's what we need in a president of the United States, because a president is more than just a manager. What they really bring is leadership to bear.
"He'll run his own race, and he has his own message. I have mine," she said. "On the national stage, I've been involved in all of these issues and will continue to be."
Pawlenty had questioned Bachmann's lack of executive experience in recent campaign events, and called her record in Congress "nonexistent."
"There is no requirement in the Constitution that one be a governor in order to go into public service," Bachmann said. "Being a governor and having governor-level experience isn't the number one requirement."
Bachmann defended her recent opposition to raising the debt ceiling, after a critique Saturday from presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum, who called her opposition "outrageous" because it would have led to cutting more than 40 percent of government funding in a matter of months.
"What's outrageous is turning us into the biggest debtor in the history of the world," Bachmann said. "No nation has ever been in debt to the level that we are. ... We have to get our house in order."
To control spending, Bachmann said that fundamental reforms to major entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare have to happen right away.
"Medicare, Medicaid, they have to be changed. Why should we continue to run these program the way we did 45 years ago?" Bachmann said. "Systems have changed. We can make these far more efficient than what they are."