DES MOINES -- Was it betrayal or just politics as usual? Most of the surprises in this GOP primary season have occurred when candidates surged or faltered during televised debates, not from any skulduggery behind the scenes. That changed yesterday, when the state campaign chief for Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann -- whose campaign already seemed to be taking on water -- showed up at a Ron Paul rally last night and endorsed his bid.
While electoral politics can be a ruthless business, sudden defections like these are notable for their rarity. It really was jaw-dropping during last year's governor's race in Massachusetts, where independent candidate Tim Cahill's consultants -- and worse still, his running mate -- deserted him for a rival candidate. Today, Bachmann isn't taking it easy; she's accusing her ex-ally of being paid off. But on the stump, she soldiered on. In appearance at the statehouse before a group of mortgage bankers -- and, let's admit it, a hefty contingent of journalists -- she didn't mention the betrayal. Instead, she stuck to the combination of conservative policy wonkery and straight-up red meat that once made her a strong contender.