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Bachmann's Tardiness Irks Iowa Republicans

Bachmann's Tardiness Irks Iowa Republicans

By Scott Conroy - January 21, 2011

With the spotlight suddenly shining brightly on Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) during her trip to Iowa on Friday, the potential presidential candidate is already getting a taste of the negative fallout that can occur when Iowans feel slighted.

Bachmann is in the first caucus state for a series of meetings to test the presidential waters. She will also deliver a much-hyped speech in Des Moines, which is being hosted by the influential advocacy group Iowans for Tax Relief.

But several dozen invited GOP activists and leaders in the state were kept waiting at the Smokey Row Coffee in Des Moines when Bachmann arrived more than an hour late for an event that was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.

Three state legislators, two county chairs and a state Central Committee member were among those who showed up, but sources at the meeting said that more than half of the original group of guests gave up and left before Bachmann finally arrived at around 10:45 a.m.

Story County Republican Chairman A.J. Spiker, who is also a member of the Republican Central Committee, was eager to meet Bachmann but had to leave just as she was arriving, since he had another appointment at 11 a.m.

"Obviously, first impressions are important, and it would be in a candidate's best interest not to keep people waiting," Spiker said. "I think most people understand a candidate who's delayed, but an hour-and-a-half is a pretty big delay."

Central Iowa was hit with snow showers this morning, but attendees told RealClearPolitics that although Bachmann had a staffer in place at the event before her arrival, no updates were provided on the congresswoman's status as she fell behind schedule at an earlier meeting with Iowans for Tax Relief's president Ed Failor, Jr., in Des Moines.

"The Congresswoman got held up at the previous engagement, and the inclement weather didn't help with the drive over," Bachmann spokesman Sergio Gor said.

After the coffee shop appearance, Bachmann headed to the capitol to meet with Republican leaders there, including Gov. Terry Branstad and state GOP chairman Matt Strawn.

But Bachmann and her staff may have some work to do in order to smooth things over with some of the lower-level Republicans in the state who felt slighted this morning.

"You can get away with this stuff in D.C. or New York, but it doesn't fly in Iowa," one of the meeting attendees told RealClearPolitics. "Out here, people keep you to your word when you say you're going to be somewhere."

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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