Bachmann, with the “eat my crust” car in Newton (audio)

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann campaigned in Newton earlier this afternoon.  Her campaign set up a small stage in the parking lot at the Pizza Ranch right off Interstate 80, not far from the set-up for a race car team in the same parking lot.

Driver Michael McDowell was under a tent, signing autographs over the noon-hour.  McDowell is part of the Pizza Ranch driving team.  The car he drives has a slogan on the rear end: “eat my crust.” Peggy Gerdts of Newton brought her grandson, Owen Aanestad of Iowa City, to get an autograph from the racer. McDowell signed the bill of Owen’s baseball cap.

“He drives for Joe Gibbs,” Peggy Gerdts said of McDowell, when I asked if she was a racing fan. (She is.) Newton, Iowa, in case you don’t know, is home to the Iowa Speedway. ” He’s a young and up and comer,” Gerdts said of McDowell.

That conversation happened at about noon in the Pizza Ranch parking lot.  By the time Bachmann arrived at 12:45, I did not see Gerdts and her grandson.  A crowd of nearly a hundred hearty souls braved the humidity and stood to hear Bachmann’s half-hour-long speech.  Bachmann mentioned limburger cheese and a White House BBQ in her remarks.

She posed for pictures, shook hands and chatted with the crowd after her speech.

Next came a Bachmann/McDowell meet-up.  The two walked from Bachmann’s set-up in the parking lot to McDowell’s.  “These are our people,” Bachmann said as she approached the vehicle. “We love NASCAR.”

Bachmann then walked back across the parking lot to pose for a picture with the staff who had been working inside the restaurant during the lunch-hour rush. “Yay Pizza Ranch,” Bachmann said, smiling, as she walked toward the group.  She was given a small, complimentary dessert pizza from the restaurant’s manager.  No word on who ate it.

AUDIO:  Bachmann then walked over to a microphone and have a brief Q&A with reporters. 5 min

A reporter asked Bachmann how she might peg her finish in the Straw Poll.  Bachmann did not suggest the other candidates would be “eating her crust” — to borrow a phrase from the Pizza Ranch folks. This is Bachmann’s answer:

“We’re at a disadvantage in that we’ve only been running and putting our plan in effect for two months here in Iowa. Other candidates have been here two years or more, and so we’ve at a distinct disadvantage from an organizational standpoint, but the response that we’ve had from Iowans is overwhelming.”  

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.