Kent Sorenson, the one-time chair of Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign who threw a jolt into the caucuses by switching to Ron Paul tonight, said he only told Paul officials of his decision when he arrived at a Des Moines rally for the congressman tonight
"10 minutes ago," Sorenson, a GOP state senator, told POLITICO about when the Paul campaign found out he was moving to their camp.
In one of the most surprising moments of the 2012 campaign, Sorenson strolled on stage just moments before Paul was set to speak and declared that he had switched his allegiance. Just hours earlier, he had been at a Bachmann campaign event with his former candidate. Sorenson's switch is a major boost to Paul's campaign, which has been dogged by criticism from establishment Republicans that his support here was largely among Democrats and independents.
Bachmann goes into damage control:
A furious Bachmann accused her former chair of being bought off.
"Kent Sorenson personally told me he was offered a large sum of money to go to work for the Paul campaign," said the Minnesotan in a statement
Paul campaign chair Jesse Benton flatly denied that they were paying Sorenson.
"No, she doesn't have a clue," Benton told POLITICO.
Asked why Bachmann would make such an accusation, Benton shot back: "Because she just lost her campaign chairman and her campaign is floundering."
The state senator said he called Bachmann on the phone right before he arrived at the Iowa state fairgrounds, where the Paul event is being held.
What's extremely significant here, is the former Bachmann supporter's reason for defecting to Ron Paul in Iowa:
Sorenson declined to share her reaction, but suggested the GOP contest had become a two-man race and that he wanted to defeat Mitt Romney.
"I adore Michele Bachmann, but the fact of the matter is I believe we have an opportunity to take Romney out here in Iowa and I believe that person is Ron Paul," he said behind the stage while his new candidate addressed about 500 supporters.
CNN has more on the scurrilous accusation of bribery:
One of Michele Bachmann’s top campaign advisers is breaking with his own candidate to defend Kent Sorenson, the Bachmann campaign’s former Iowa chairman who publicly defected to Ron Paul on Wednesday.
Wes Enos, Bachmann’s Iowa political director, released a statement Thursday defending Sorenson from Bachmann’s accusation that Paul offered him money to switch allegiances.
In a statement distributed by Sorenson, Enos stated “unequivocally” that Sorenson’s decision was “in no way financially motivated.”
“His decision had more to do with the fact that the Ron Paul supporters have been something of a family to him since he was first elected in 2008 and here in the end, as it becomes more and more apparent that the caucus cycle is coming to an end, Kent believed that he needed to be with them as they stand on the cusp of a potential caucus upset,” Enos said in the statement.
“While I personally disagree with Kent’s decision, and plan to stay with Michele Bachmann because I truly believe in her, I cannot, in good conscious watch a good man like Kent Sorenson be attacked as a ‘sell-out’ … That is simply not the case, and it was not the basis of his decision,” he added.
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