Bachmann and Pawlenty Square Off In Iowa

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Republicans in tiny Humboldt County, Iowa got a preview of the Ames Straw Poll today as two of the main combatants spoke back-to-back.

With Texas Governor Rick Perry deciding to wait until after the Straw Poll to even visit the Hawkeye State much less actually launch a White House bid, the main battle in Iowa this week is between two Republicans from next-door Minnesota: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Bachmann lived up to the hype surrounding her campaign, roiling the small but lively crowd. "It won't even be close," she said, claiming Republicans will oust President Obama in 2012. "We're going to see a tidal wave."Earlier in the day, in Arnolds Park, Iowa on the Minnesota border, Bachmann's rhetoric was mostly devoted to the nation's shaky economic situation.

"If you add to the debt, you're going to have more debt... We're literally going to be in debtor's prison," she told a gathering at an amusement park.

The Minnesota representative added, "It isn't that difficult to turn the economy around... We just need that get 'er done spirit to do what has to be done."Pawlenty, on the other hand spoke to a crowd gathered inside a hall where the actual Humboldt County GOP dinner and fundraiser was taking place.

He also said the president will be in trouble in 2012. "You can almost stick a fork in him; he's just about done politically."

The former Minnesota Governor has suffered from a charisma gap, but his speech on Tuesday was decidedly fiery."[President Obama] is like a manure spreader in a windstorm, he's throwing it in every direction and it doesn't smell good," said Pawlenty.We'll know a lot more about the two candidates on Saturday night at the Ames Straw Poll. With a win, Bachmann could solidify her standing as the frontrunner in the leadoff caucus state.

A strong finish for Pawlenty, on the other hand, would put some much needed wind in his sails, and a poor showing could be nearly devastating.