Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty stood by his criticism of fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann's record, saying Monday that her "great speeches" do not make up for a "nonexistent" record in Congress.
Bachmann said in a statement late Sunday, after Pawlenty first leveled the criticism on a morning news show, that she will "focus on her accomplishments" and avoid being negative toward Pawlenty.
"People can count on me as a fighter; 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," she said.
But Pawlenty didn't back off.
"With all due respect, she just doesn't have that kind of experience, and secondly her record in Congress ... is again, great remarks and great speeches, but in terms of results and accomplishments, nonexistent," he said on Fox News. "I don't think it's a disputable point that we should have somebody in the Oval Office who has executive experience."
Pawlenty is a former Minnesota governor. Bachmann, a former state legislator and tax attorney, is serving her third term in Congress representing Minnesota.
The former governor's tough comments come as he faces mounting questions about the viability of his campaign. Pawlenty is trailing far behind his competitors in the polls, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney typically leading and Bachmann catching up to him.
Bachmann is touting her Iowa roots as she makes a big play for voters ahead of the leadoff Iowa caucuses and, before that, a key straw poll. With Pawlenty likewise staking much of his success on Iowa, the ex-governor first argued Sunday that voters should square his record against Bachmann's.
"I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I've campaigned for her, I respect her. But her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent," he told NBC's "Meet the Press." "We're not looking for folks who just have speech capabilities. We're looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting. ... I've done that, she hasn't."
Pawlenty acknowledged he wants to see "significant progress" in his own numbers in the upcoming Iowa Straw Poll next month. But he expressed confidence in his ability to recover and downplayed his standing in recent polls.
"Rudy Giuliani would be president or Hillary Clinton would be president or Howard Dean would be president if these early polls meant anything," Pawlenty said.