Michele Bachmann Ends Her Campaign

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Her presidential bid began to lose altitude the day she won the Ames straw poll, but it took a sixth-place Iowa finish to push her out of the contest.

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WEST DES MOINES -- After coming in sixth in the Iowa caucuses, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann suspended her campaign for the presidency Wednesday morning in a hotel ballroom in Iowa. A round of hugs with teary supporters, with the strains of campaign theme song "Hey, Soul Sister" in the background, followed her remarks, which the House Tea Party Caucus founder used as an opportunity to once again state her firm opposition to President Obama's "socialism."

Vowing to continue her fight against "Obamacare," which she said had been the impetus for her presidential bid, Bachmann stood beneath a crystal chandelier in the West Des Moines Marriott and warned that the president's health-care overhaul legislation "has now become the playground of left-wing social engineering" and "will represent a turning point in our country" if not repealed in 2012.

"What the Congress had done and what President Obama had done in passing 'Obamacare' endangered the very survival of the United States of America," she said. "I will continue fighting to defeat the president's agenda of socialism."

The winner of the Iowa Republican Party's straw poll in August -- and also the poll's first female winner -- Bachmann's meteoric rise over the summer ended the day of her Ames victory, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry got into the race, quickly stealing national attention and making her long-shot candidacy seem even more improbable. She proved a deft Perry critic in debates, pressing him again and again on his support in Texas for mandating that girls be vaccinated against HPV. But she was never able to recover the momentum she had in July, and her campaign continued to falter as one rival after another caught the fancy of a fickle Republican primary electorate that never went back to her.

"Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice and so I have decided to stand aside," Bachmann said. The decision came this morning, Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart said, though Bachmann called her competitors last night to congratulate them.

Saying that she had "no regrets -- none whatsoever," Bachmann affirmed her faith in God and thanked her husband of 33 years, Marcus Bachmann, her children (by name), her campaign staffers, and key Iowa supporters.

She did not offer any endorsement of the remaining presidential contenders, but said, "We must rally around the person our people and our party choose to be standard bearer."

Perry, who had also been expected to withdraw from the race after announcing last night he would not immediately go on to New Hampshire as planned, now appears to be staying in the contest. "And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State.... Here we come South Carolina!!!" he tweeted Wednesday morning. The South Carolina primary takes place on January 21.

Image credit: Associated Press

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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