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Perry, Bachmann Make (And Lose) Friends In Iowa

Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry were both in Waterloo, IA, Sunday night at the Black Hawk County Republican dinner and it sounds like they both left some Iowans impressed, others not quite.

It sounds like Bachmann may have even hurt herself with some Iowans by sweeping into the room as though she were already president, according to a report in

NPR's Don Gonyea was at the dinner and witnessed the reception both received. He reported on Morning Edition that Perry has a lot to prove with some Iowans because of his absence in the state up till now.

An excerpt from Don's report:

DON: But despite the enthusiastic greeting, there was also a dose of skepticism and sensitivity over the fact that the Governor skipped many months of tough campaigning in Iowa leading up to and including Saturday's straw poll.

Thirty year old Mike Robinson is from Cedar Falls.

ROBINSON: First time I've seen him.

DON: Size him up. First impression?

Robinson: I think that was a Texas-sized entourage for sure. Lot of people coming in with him. Good to see him finally making it to the state.

Don: I notice you didn't say anything about his politics and prospects.

Robinson: He really hasn't sold himself to anyone besides Texas. So it's time to hear his message.

Don:Your saying he's got a lot to prove?

Robinson: Absolutely.

Meanwhile, Perry apparently did at least mingle with the crowd before his speech, going from table to table, after he entered with his entourage.

Bachmann, who was born in Waterloo, only entered the room after she was introduced and went immediately to the stage.

As Politico reports:

But the contrast that may lift Perry, and undermine Bachmann, in their high-stakes battle for Iowa had less to do with what they said than how they said it — and what they did before and after speaking.

Perry arrived early, as did former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The Texas governor let a media throng grow and dissolve before working his way across the room to sit at table after table, shake hand after hand, pose for photographs and listen politely to a windy Abraham Lincoln impersonator, paying respect to a state that expects candidates, no matter their fame, to be accessible.

But Bachmann campaigned like a celebrity. And the event highlighted the brittle, presidential-style cocoon that has become her campaign's signature: a routine of late entries, unexplained absences, quick exits, sharp-elbowed handlers with matching lapel pins, and pre-selected questioners.

She camped out in her bus, parked on the street in front of a nearby Ramada Hotel, until it was time to take the stage. Even after a local official's introduction, Bachmann was nowhere to be found. It was not until a second staffer assured her that the lighting had been changed and a second introduction piped over the loudspeakers that she entered the former dance hall here. By the time she made her big entrance to bright lights and blaring music, the crowd seemed puzzled.

Later in the report, Politico's Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin report that some Iowans delivered a withering verdict on her appearance.

"I was really a big fan of hers up until how I saw her come into this event," Judd Saul, a local Tea Party activist, told the Texas Tribune. "Her coming in, not eating dinner with us, showing up with a grand entrance with a big song playing. It's not what it's about here."

While some wanted to see more of Perry in Iowa before making their minds up, others had seen enough to know they were with him. Back to Don's report:

DON: But near the back of the room, 46-year old Jack Walsh of Spirit Lake sat with his 18-year old daughter. Both wearing Rick Perry T-Shirts, he said Perry has the best chance to beat President Obama.

WALSH: One thing I like about Perry, he is socially and fiscally conservative. However his messaging is about jobs.

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Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.