MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Republican candidate Michele Bachmann spent Saturday shaking hands in Iowa diners and strolling through bustling farmers market as she tried to capitalize on her early popularity in the state that kicks off the presidential campaign season.
An Iowa native, the tea party favorite ranked nearly even with GOP front-runner Mitt Romney in a recent poll of Republicans likely to participate in the state's lead-off caucuses next year. But just six weeks before the state's closely watched straw poll, the Minnesota congresswoman has done little to campaign or set up an organization here.
Beginning her first sustained campaign trip to Iowa as an announced candidate, Bachmann introduced herself to audiences from Iowa City to Des Moines in a new campaign bus emblazoned with her name. She spent much of Saturday posing for pictures and signing autographs rather than meeting with key GOP activists.
"I have every confidence our team is going to deliver," Bachmann told the Associated Press after meeting about 100 supporters and politically curious Iowans at a stop in Marshalltown. "I am going to be here in Iowa campaigning all through July."
Proof that her Iowa campaign was still coming together met Bachmann in Iowa City, where she got together with about 100 weekend breakfast regulars and Republican activists at the Bluebird Diner near the University of Iowa. Local resident Sheila Reiland told Bachmann's campaign chairman in the crowded diner that she signed up last week on Bachmann's website to volunteer. "But I haven't heard anything back."