AMES, Iowa — Say goodbye to Minnesota nice.
The gloves came off Thursday night as Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann, the two GOP presidential candidates from Minnesota, traded one-liners during a fiery Republican presidential debate at Iowa State University.
It started with Pawlenty during the Fox News-sponsored showdown, saying Bachmann’s “record of accomplishment and results is nonexistent.”
“The American people are going to expect more and demand more,” said Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, “and in fact we need somebody who can contrast with Barack Obama on results.”
Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman, countered by accusing Pawlenty of favoring the “cap and trade” environmental legislation. She also said he has praised “the unconstitutional individual mandate” for purchasing health insurance.
“You said the era of small government was over,” Bachmann said about Pawlenty. “That sounds a lot more like Barack Obama if you ask me. During my time in the United States Congress, I have fought all these unconstitutional measures, as well as [fighting] Barack Obama.” (RELATED: Pawlenty promises to cook dinner and mow lawns)
But Pawlenty swung back: “She says that she’s fighting against these things. She fought for less government spending, we got a lot more. She led the effort against Obamacare, we got Obamacare. She led the effort against TARP, we got TARP. She said she’s got a titanium spine. It’s not her spine we’re worried about, it’s her record of results.”
“If that’s your view of effective leadership with results,” Pawlenty continued about Bachmann, “please stop because you’re killing us.”
He also said Bachmann has “a record of misstating and making false statements, and that’s another example of that list.”
Minutes after the exchange, Bachmann’s staffers at the Iowa debate site passed documents to reporters elaborating on her remarks about Pawlenty’s record.
Bachmann and Pawlenty are counting on strong performances tonight and at Saturday’s Ames Straw Poll. Each sees the other as standing in the way.
Also participating in the debate were Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.