(DES MOINES, Iowa) — As GOP contender Michele Bachmann concluded a 99-county tour of Iowa Thursday, the Minnesota Republican was forced to explain not only why her Iowa chairman Sen. Kent Sorenson defected from her campaign to endorse Ron Paul at the eleventh hour, but why her senior political advisor issued a statement refuting Bachmann’s explanation.
Sorenson, she told reporters, was “offered a great deal of money” by the Paul campaign to switch teams just five days before the first-in-the-nation caucuses on Jan. 3.
She characterized Sorenson’s departure as political poaching, calling it an “aggressive action by the Ron Paul” campaign.
Bachmann’s Iowa political director, Wes Enos, who like Sorenson joined her campaign in its first days, released a statement under Ron Paul’s letterhead refuting Bachmann’s assertion that Sorenson had been paid to go. Sorenson and Enos both say the state senator decided to back Paul because he had many friends on that campaign, and believed he had the best chance of winning.
According to Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart, Enos “is no longer with us,” but she would not confirm whether he’d been fired for insubordination or left on his own accord.
Stewart said Bachmann’s campaign’s organization was strong and Bachmann had registered 95 county chairs for caucus night. She said the Paul campaign went after Sorenson after Bachmann dealt Paul a blow in the last televised debate, hammering him on national security issues.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Tal Kopan and Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Cimaron Neugebauer, KUTV
Tom LoBianco, CNN