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(Updates with Bachmann comments starting in fifth paragraph. For more on the 2012 campaign, see ELECT.)
Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota ended her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination after finishing sixth in yesterday’s Iowa caucuses.
“Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice and so I have decided to stand aside,” Bachmann said in a hotel ballroom in West Des Moines, Iowa. “We can leave this race knowing that we ran it with utmost integrity,” said Bachmann, who vowed to “continue fighting to defeat the president’s agenda of socialism.”
Bachmann, who pitched her hometown connections in the state where she was born and sought to appeal to evangelical Christians who play a crucial role in the Republican caucuses, had fallen in public opinion surveys after winning the Iowa Straw Poll in August.
The Minnesota lawmaker won support from about 5 percent of Iowans at the Republican caucuses. The leaders, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, each got about 25 percent.
Speaking with her husband and family members at her side as she withdrew from the race, Bachmann kept her focus primarily on President Barack Obama and continued her call for the repeal of the health-care overhaul he pushed through Congress.
“I ran because I believe that, since day one, Barack Obama’s policies, based on socialism, are destructive to the very foundation of the republic,” said Bachmann, who often told voters that she had a “titanium spine” when it came to protecting Republican ideals.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who finished fifth in Iowa, said via Twitter today that he is heading to South Carolina, which has its primary on Jan. 21, after the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary.
Bachmann’s victory in the straw poll, a non-binding contest in Ames in which less than 17,000 votes were cast, had boosted her into the top tier of candidates. “This is the very first step towards taking the White House in 2012,” she told supporters at the time. “This was a wonderful down-payment on taking the country back.”
Her momentum waned after Perry entered the race on the same day as the straw poll and swooped into Iowa where he grabbed the media’s attention. As Perry’s support dwindled, the social conservative voters Bachmann was banking on gravitated to Santorum.
Bachmann, 55, made a point of visiting all of Iowa’s 99 counties -- an accomplishment Santorum beat her to -- as she focused on the state as the best place to propel her candidacy.
She is serving her third term in the House, where she organized the Tea Party Caucus shortly before the 2010 midterm elections. Tea Party activists pressing for a significant reduction in federal spending and strict adherence to the Constitution helped Republicans win control of the House in 2010 and Bachmann sought to rally these voters to her candidacy.
“I look forward for the next chapter in God’s plan,” Bachmann said as she was concluding her remarks today.
She declined to answer shouted questions from reporters on whether she intends to endorse another presidential candidate or run for re-election in her home district.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., who did not compete in Iowa and instead is focusing on the New Hampshire primary, was among the first presidential candidates to issue a statement about Bachmann’s departure.
“Michele Bachmann brought an energetic and passionate voice to this race,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “She should be proud of the ambitious solutions she offered to reduce our national debt and rebuild our economy.”
--Editors: Bob Drummond, Justin Blum
To contact the reporters on this story: Catherine Dodge in Washington at email@example.com; John McCormick in West Des Moines, Iowa, at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at email@example.com