Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty refused to back down from his criticism of fellow Republican presidential candidate - and fellow Minnesotan - Michele Bachmann Monday, reiterating his view that her congressional record is "nonexistent" - even as Bachmann leaps ahead in a new Iowa poll.
"Her record in Congress, as I mentioned before, is, you know - again, great remarks, and great speeches, but in terms of results and accomplishments - nonexistent," Pawlenty said Monday on "Fox and Friends."
The former Minnesota governor found himself in hot water over the weekend after he criticized Bachmann's congressional record on NBC’s "Meet the Press," saying she had few accomplishments to show for her time in office.
Bachmann hit back in a statement Sunday night, albeit without directly mentioning Pawlenty.
"Instead of negativity, I want to focus on my accomplishments," she said, going on to detail her votes on cap-and-trade and healthcare legislation. "I am proud of my record of fighting with resolve, and without apology, for our free markets, for sane fiscal policies, and in opposition to the advancement of the big government left."
Bachmann is, according to a new poll from TheIowaRepublican.com, leading the pack of GOP candidates in Iowa at 25 percent - jumping ahead of recent frontrunner Mitt Romney at 21 percent. Pawlenty, who has spent more time in Iowa than almost any other candidate, finished third in the poll with 8.8 percent.
But the former governor refused to back off from his criticism of Bachmann's leadership record.
"It's not a stretch to say that we need somebody in the Oval Office - who's going to be President of the United States and Commander in Chief - who has executive experience leading a large enterprise in a public setting," he said. "With all due respect, she just doesn't have that kind of experience."
When asked if he had abandoned his "Minnesota nice," Pawlenty stuck to his guns.
"I don't think it's a disputable point that we should have someone in the Oval Office who has executive experience," he said. "I think that's a fair point as to any candidate."