Behind Bachmann’s Slide

On August 13, as dusk settled upon Iowa State University, Michele Bachmann hopped onto a makeshift stepstool beside her bus. Her supporters crowded close, pressing against a flimsy rope. Bachmann, clad in an ivory-colored suit and pearls, raised both arms. Gray-haired retirees, teenage volunteers, and sign-toting pastors cheered their champion, the winner of the Ames straw poll. “Now it’s on to all 50 states,” she told them, her right hand punching the air.

Two months later, Bachmann’s late-summer dream has largely evaporated, and her presidential campaign — even in Iowa — is tottering. Senior advisers have departed, her cash has dwindled, and her poll numbers have dipped. The tea-party star has dimmed.

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