Appearing at the same place for the first time in this presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry reportedly got a better reaction from the crowd of Republicans in Waterloo than Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Politico says Perry “schooled” Bachmann Sunday evening in her hometown.
Both had the same conservative message for Black Hawk County crowd, but it was how they said it that seemed to make a big difference:
[T]he contrast that may lift Perry, and undermine Bachmann, in their high-stakes battle for Iowa had less to do with what they said than how they said it — and what they did before and after speaking.
Perry arrived early, as did former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The Texas governor let a media throng grow and dissolve before working his way across the room to sit at table after table, shake hand after hand, pose for photographs and listen politely to a windy Abraham Lincoln impersonator, paying respect to a state that expects candidates, no matter their fame, to be accessible.
But Bachmann campaigned like a celebrity. And the event highlighted the brittle, presidential-style cocoon that has become her campaign’s signature: a routine of late entries, unexplained absences, quick exits, sharp-elbowed handlers with matching lapel pins, and pre-selected questioners.
She camped out in her bus, parked on the street in front of a nearby Ramada Hotel, until it was time to take the stage. Even after a local official’s introduction, Bachmann was nowhere to be found. It was not until a second staffer assured her that the lighting had been changed and a second introduction piped over the loudspeakers that she entered the former dance hall here. By the time she made her big entrance to bright lights and blaring music, the crowd seemed puzzled.
When she left she:
…swept through what was by then an empty ballroom behind a phalanx of six aides who shielded her from reporters and the handful of Iowans who remained.
“She kept us waiting, she was not here mixing — then she was talking about what great evening it was. How do you know? You just got here,” said Karen Vanderkrol, of Hudson, Iowa, who said she agreed with the substance of Bachmann’s speech, but that one line in particular had rung false: “I am a real person.”
“She can say she’s real and part of the people, but that’s not what we do,” Vanderkrol said of the congresswoman’s behavior.