OSKALOOSA, Iowa (Reuters) - Facing colossal odds in the Republican nomination race, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann cast her struggle in Biblical terms on Sunday in a late attempt to win over conservative voters.
Bachmann spoke from the pulpit of a small church in rural Iowa, telling the congregation about a small group of Israelites who emerged victorious from a battle in which they were outmatched in numbers and weaponry.
“I admonish you, don’t for one moment think that your adversity is one that cannot be scaled,” said Bachmann, who has been beset by a series of setbacks, most recently her sixth-place finish in an influential poll on Saturday.
Several “Amens” rang out in the Jubilee Family Church when congresswoman Bachmann said the Israelites’ victory was due to their faith in God, who smote their foes.
The Iowa-born Bachmann, 55, was once a leading light for evangelical voters in Iowa, which on Tuesday holds the nation’s first voting contest to pick a candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.
She shot to the top of polls of Republicans in August after winning the Ames straw poll in the state but is now fast losing support from conservatives to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
After the church service, Bachmann, fresh off of a 99-county, 7,000-mile tour of Iowa, said the only endorsement she is after is that of people of Iowa.
“That’s why we saw literally thousands of people in cafes and homes all across Iowa make a decision on the spot that they will be supporting me ... because they want someone who they can trust. I am a real, authentic Iowan.”
“She has my vote, now,” said Tony Hol, a 46-year-old farmer who lives near Oskaloosa. “I’ve listened to other candidates and listened to her. She doesn’t change her story with different audiences. And that is very important to me,” said Hol.
Bachmann, who campaign staffers say is short of funds, is in danger of an early elimination from the nomination race if she loses badly in Iowa.
“I like her. I just don’t think she’ll get the votes to make it,” said worshipper and day-care worker Alicia VanDerVeer, 38. “I like Rick Perry. (Should) I say that quietly?”
Bachmann could still be helped by endorsements, such as that of Iowa Rep. Steve King, one of Bachmann’s closest allies in Congress, who has praised her but stopped short of an outright endorsement.