Bachmann's Iowa chairman quits, endorses Paul

DES MOINES, Iowa Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:01am EST

Republican presidential candidate and Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) signs an autograph at Uncle Nancy's Coffeeshop in Newton, Iowa December 23, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Republican presidential candidate and Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) signs an autograph at Uncle Nancy's Coffeeshop in Newton, Iowa December 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

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DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Republican candidate Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign chairman resigned on Wednesday and endorsed rival Ron Paul, six days before Iowa voters begin the nomination process to select the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

Kent Sorenson, an Iowa state senator who had served as Bachmann's state campaign chairman for nearly a year, said he had decided to switch his support to Paul because the campaign had reached "a turning point."

"When the Republican establishment is going to be coming after Ron Paul, I thought it is my duty to come to his aid," Sorenson said, announcing his endorsement for the Texas congressman during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Sorenson said in a statement that Paul was "easily the most conservative" member of the top tier in the race for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in elections in November next year.

"The fact that he doesn't take this decision lightly tells a great deal about the senator and Ron Paul," said Jesse Benton, Paul's national campaign chair.

Paul has a strong organization in the early voting state and is one of the favorites to win the Iowa caucuses vote on January 3.

Sorenson's defection gave the Paul campaign some respite from questions about his links to newsletters two decades ago that carried his name and contained racist, anti-homosexual and anti-Israel rants.

Soon after Paul took the stage at the rally late Wednesday, he was interrupted by a few protesters from the "Occupy Des Moines" movement.

"Freedom of speech. Ain't it wonderful?," Paul said, "We're all upset and we want a change in Washington. As a matter of fact, that's what our purpose is."

The protesters were escorted out.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski, writing by JoAnne Allen)

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Comments (26)
matthewslyman wrote:
In my mind, when one accepts a formal position with access to confidential information like “campaign chairman”; one makes a commitment to serve and help represent the candidate come what may, until that candidate quits and decides to endorse another, or until one can quit at an honorable juncture (i.e., not betraying the candidate just before the first big battle).

It’s fine for Sorenson to stand on his own reputation, but I don’t like him getting wide publicity for his opinions by “virtue” of having been Bachmann’s campaign chairman (or, merely from having held onto Bachmann’s coat-tails in the past.) It’s not fair on Bachmann for Sorenson to sail his own political boat at her campaign’s expense.

Being a campaign chairman is:
* A big responsibility. A big distraction from a politician’s other duties in representing their electors
* Potentially incompatible with the role of a politician in representing their electors: potential conflict of interests

I think it’s wrong for a politician to hold such a position, particularly if they are not able to wholeheartedly endorse the candidate they initially signed up to throughout their campaign (although, fair game if the candidate makes major avoidable gaffes). I don’t think a serving politician should be any more involved with a presidential campaign than as an informal advisor and friend.

I’m no fan of Bachmann but I think that unless “campaign chairman” was just an honorific title, this is a personal betrayal that should make us question Sorenson’s trustworthiness.

Do others see this the same way?

Dec 29, 2011 1:58am EST  --  Report as abuse
wagstaff wrote:
question Sorenson’s trustworthiness? how about question his decision to be closely affiliated to someone horribly unqualified to be a grade-school teacher, let alone President of the USA…

Dec 29, 2011 2:32am EST  --  Report as abuse
sailing wrote:
About those newsletters, have you seen this?

Dec 29, 2011 9:28am EST  --  Report as abuse
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