But it would be premature to count her out of the Sixth District race, observed one independent analyst, who said she can turn the controversy to her advantage.
Addressing a business group in St. Cloud, Tuesday, Rep. Michele Bachmann said: "I did not, nor do I, question Barack Obama's patriotism. I didn't say that Barack Obama was anti-American nor do I believe that Barack Obama is anti-American."
The national fundraising committee for GOP congressional candidates has canceled its Twin Cities TV advertising for Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is using the flap over her comments about Barack Obama to raise money on her own.
The National Republican Congressional Committee pulled ads scheduled to begin running Monday through Election Day. At just KSTP television, the canceled ads would have cost $50,000 from Oct. 27 through Nov. 4.
A Republican source confirmed Wednesday that the NRCC is pulling its funding out of the Sixth District race.
The ads were canceled Tuesday afternoon, after several days in which Bachmann was the subject of criticism for her televised remark on Friday that Obama "may have anti-American views." Her DFL opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, reports receiving $1.3 million in donations since Bachmann made the comment in response to a question from Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball."
In addition, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has pledged $1 million to help Tinklenberg.
The Bachmann campaign held a $1 million advantage in cash over Tinklenberg at the end of September, and she moved quickly this week to use her "Hardball" appearance and its aftermath as a fundraising tool.
In a letter Wednesday to subscribers of a national conservative online newsletter, Bachmann wrote that her office has been deluged with calls "full of hate and anger" since her comments. "Nazi. Psychopath. Deranged. Mentally ill. Disgusting human being ... these are just a few of the names that my staff and volunteers have been called. ..."
"Chris Matthews did what Chris Matthews is paid big bucks to do: Twist my words and set them up for full-fledged distortion when his next guest came on," she wrote. "And, when the liberal blogs got hold of little clips of my appearance, the spin machine really kicked into overdrive. ... They're motivated entirely by their hatred of me and my conservative beliefs."
Writing that the "Far Left" has given large sums to Tinklenberg since her comments, Bachmann appealed to the online subscribers for contributions.
"Click here to let Chris know you play hardball, too!"
Bachmann's spokeswoman, Michelle Marston, said the campaign had considered the NRCC ad buys to be "icing on the cake." Marston said the campaign already has scheduled ad buys of $700,000 and expects to buy more. She said the new fundraising effort has brought money, but declined to be specific.
The impact of the NRCC cancellation was a matter of speculation Wednesday.
"The obvious theory to pull from this move is they think this race is a lost cause," said David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report in Washington. "I don't think that's what Republicans believe at all," he said.
Wasserman said Bachmann can raise enough money to "saturate Minneapolis television for the rest of the campaign." He said she has "one final path to victory: to portray her political opponents as East Coast elitists, including Chris Matthews, but also contributors to Tinklenberg's campaign over the past 72 hours."
Tinklenberg spokesman John Wodele said the campaign received about 20,000 donations from all 50 states, including 3,210 contributions from Minnesota, 2,405 from California, 1,150 from New York and 2,330 from Texas.
"This is not a response around the country from what the Bachmann campaign might call liberal elites," Wodele said.
Star Tribune Washington reporter Mitch Anderson contributed to this report.
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