UPDATED 11:22 p.m. — DES MOINES—Michele Bachmann may have come in sixth place in the Iowa Caucuses Tuesday night, but you wouldn't have guessed it from her non-concession speech.
With about 100 supporters at the West Des Moines Marriott, Bachmann was introduced as "the next president of the United States."
What her campaign lacked in support it made up in moxie.
Though she finished sixth—just ahead of John Huntsman, and effectively last place among the major candidates campaigning in Iowa—she showed no signs of giving up as she was surrounded at the podium by members of her family, including her mother and husband, children and foster children.
"Right here is the real, real deal," said Iowa State Sen. Brad Zaun as he introduced the diminutive candidate. "This is what we need in this country. This lady here, pound for pound, is the toughest person in Washington D.C."
If pundits were expecting her to suspend her campaign, she didn't reward them.
"The people of Iowa have spoken and they have written the very first chapter in this long journey to take our country back from Barack Obama, ... The people of Iowa who chose tonight. It wasn’t the pundits. It wasn’t the media."
But experts, such as Dante Scala, professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire (where the candidates travel next, for the Jan. 10 primary vote), said Bachmann's chances at the White House are all but gone.
"Gosh, you finish last among those who are competing in your own state?" he asked rhetorically. "She'll end with maybe 6,000 votes out of some 100,000 cast. If you can win only 5 percent in your self-avowed home state, you're done."
Bachmann said the pundits and media will attempt to pick a nominee based on tonight's results. "I prefer to let the people of the country decide who will represent us," she said.
"Barack Obama will be …" Bachmann shouted.
"A one-term president," supporters bellowed in response.
She closed the evening by thanking "the God of our fathers."
"God bless you," she said. "God bless the United States of America."
With reporting from Iowa Patch's Beth Dalbey in Des Moines.
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UPDATED, 10:38 p.m. — Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann took sixth place in the Iowa Caucuses Tuesday night, with 5 percent of the vote.
Bachmann failed to carry even Black Hawk County, home of her birthplace, Waterloo, despite a last-minute push for votes at the UNI-Dome in neighboring Cedar Falls up to the time the caucuses began.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette was reporting that with fewer than 5 percent of the vote remaining, the race was a dead heat between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, each with 25 percent of the vote, trailed by Ron Paul, who collected 21 percent. Newt Gingrich finished fourth with 13 percent.
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UPDATED, 9:49 p.m. — Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann failed to place in the top four of her hometown of Waterloo-Cedar Falls in the Black Hawk County Republican Caucus Tuesday night.
As of 9:45 p.m., with more than two thirds of the state's precincts reporting, the Cedar Rapids Gazette was reporting that Bachmann was bracing for a last-place finish despite her earlier strong showing in the Iowa Straw Poll in August. Bachmann was trailing all other candidates with roughly 5 percent of the vote.
In Black Hawk County, where Bachmann was campaigning heavily up to the start of the caucuses Tuesday night, Ron Paul won the night with 24 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney came in second with 23 percent of the vote, followed by Rick Santorum, with 21 percent of the vote. Newt Gingrich, whose final campaign stop was also Cedar Falls, collected 16 percent of the vote.
About an hour after the caucuses began, media began filling Bachmann's headquarters in Des Moines. There were a few supporters milling around, looking unhappy.
Ron Saur, a retired postal worker from Grimes, has been a Michele Bachmann supporter since she announced her campaign, drawn by her strident messages on immigration and her calls to repeal both Dodd-Frank and what President Barack Obama’s opponents routinely call “Obamacare.”
“I like the way she stands up for herself,” Saur said. “She’s not afraid to speak her own words.”
Saur expressed hope that the Minnesota congresswoman can remain in the race.
“She’s saying she will stay in,” he said, shaking his head. “My personal feeling is that if she could finish in the top four, she could stay in.”
Iowa State Sen. Brad Zaun, who became Bachmann’s Iowa chairman after Kent Sorenson defected last week to the Ron Paul campaign, said that despite Bachmann’s apparent sixth-place finish, she’s still in the race.
“It’s a disappointing night, but this is just one state,” he said. “We will have to see. It’s all rumors that she’s canceling South Carolina. I’m on the inside, and I spent all day with Michele. Until I am told something different, I assume she’s going forward.”
Bachmann is en route from Waterloo, her hometown, and is expected to arrive about 10 o’clock.
“She’s worked hard,” Zaun said. “She’s the hardest working presidential candidate in the race. She did 99 counties in 10 days, and I was there for half of that.”
“She’s a fighter. I am not happy about the way it’s turned out,” Zaun said. “We won the Straw Poll, so tonight is a big disappointment.”
JoEllen Arthur of Des Moines was surprised that Bachmann didn’t do better in the caucuses after she tied to win Precinct 81 in Des Moines.
“I’ve liked her since the beginning,” Arthur said. “She strong on foreign policy, and wants to be tough. She has confidence. She wants to balance the budget.”
(With Iowa Patch's Beth Dalbey reporting from Des Moines).
7:30 p.m. — CEDAR FALLS, IA—Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann ended her Iowa Campaign in the city she was born Tuesday night, asking Iowa Caucus goers to support her conservative agenda and elect her as their choice for Republican nominee for president.
Bachmann, who was born in the neighboring city of Waterloo, was one of only two presidential candidates to end their stumping in Cedar Falls at the University of Northern Iowa UNI-Dome. Newt Gingrich also made an impassioned plea to the caucus voters just prior to their start at 7 p.m.
An estimated 5,000 Republican voters turned out for the caucuses in Cedar Falls Tuesday night, according to Black Hawk County Republican Party Chairman Mac McDonald. And by most accounts Bachmann met them all—shaking hands, signing autographs, and walking from precinct caucus to precinct caucus.
Unlike the rest of Iowa, the Black Hawk County Republicans all caucus in one central location, divided by simple curtains. Most Iowa precincts caucus privately in locations such as churches and school gymnasiums. The UNI-Dome is the athletic center for the University of Northern Iowa.
Prior to the start of the caucuses, both Gingrich and Bachmann each were given four minutes to address the Black Hawk County voters before each respectively worked the room.
Bachmann told voters that she was the only "true core conservative" and that her goal was to be the "best president the United States of America has ever had."
"We need to have someone who is in the image and likeness of a Ronald Reagan and a Margaret Thatcher who will stand up and take it to Barack Obama," Bachmann said. "In the last debate in Iowa, I took it to Ron Paul on the issue of allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon. That's the same kind of fearlessness I'll use in the debates with Barack Obama."
Bachmann continued to shake hands and sign autographs until well after the caucuses began in earnest, leaving for her Des Moines campaign headquarters at about 7:30 p.m., telling supporters as she left, "This is your chance to vote for a strong Iowa woman!"