ABC News' Matthew Jaffe (@matthewbjaffe) reports:
Tim Pawlenty has been hitting out at Michele Bachmann for weeks now, denouncing her record in Congress as "non-existent" and, when asked about her migraines, warning that a president has "got to be able to do the job every day, all the time."
Bachmann never returned fire — until today, that is.
With the Ames, Iowa, straw poll fast approaching, Bachmann unloaded on her fellow Minnesotan Pawlenty today, likening him to Barack Obama, ripping his record as Minnesota governor, and calling him a "career politician."
"Governor Pawlenty said in 2006, 'The era of small government is over … the government has to be more proactive and more aggressive.' That's the same philosophy that, under President Obama, has brought us record deficits, massive unemployment, and an unconstitutional health care plan," Bachmann said in a statement today. "Actions speak louder than words. When I was fighting against the unconstitutional individual mandate in healthcare, Governor Pawlenty was praising it. I have fought against irresponsible spending while Governor Pawlenty was leaving a multi-billion-dollar budget mess in Minnesota. I fought cap-and-trade. Governor Pawlenty backed cap-and-trade when he was Governor of Minnesota and put Minnesota into the multi-state Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. While Governor Pawlenty was praising TARP — the $700 billion bailout in 2008 — I worked tirelessly against it and voted against it. I have demonstrated leadership and the courage of my convictions to change Washington, stop wasteful spending, lower taxes, put Americans back to work and turn our economy around."
After outlining her accomplishments in Congress, Bachmann concluded, "Real world actions speak louder than the words of career politicians."
The Pawlenty campaign was clearly pleased that Bachmann had taken the bait.
Pawlenty's campaign manager Nick Ayers tweeted, "Glad an opponent engaged today. Even better…she used a bunch of weak/incorrect oppo research. back in IA to address tomrrw."
And Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant said, "Congresswoman Bachmann has her facts wrong. The truth is that there is very little difference between Governor Pawlenty and Congresswoman Bachmann on their issue positions. The difference is that when Governor Pawlenty was scoring conservative victories to cut spending, pass market-based health care reform, and transform a supreme court from liberal to conservative, and was elected twice in a very blue state, Congresswoman Bachmann was giving speeches and offering failed amendments, all while struggling mightily to hold onto the most Republican house seat in the state. In order to beat Barack Obama, Republicans need someone who can unite conservatives with a proven track record of winning conservative results and tough elections — that's Governor Pawlenty. The Governor looks forward to discussing these issues eye-to-eye with voters in town halls across Iowa next week."