Image: Michele Bachmann holds up a copy of the local paper in Waterloo, Iowa
Scott Olson  /  Getty Images
Rep. Michele Bachmann did not enter the venue Sunday until she had been assured by a campaign staffer that the lighting had been changed, NBC News' Jamie Novogrod reported.
NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 8/15/2011 5:58:07 AM ET 2011-08-15T09:58:07

One day after Michele Bachmann won the Ames straw poll and Rick Perry joined the 2012 presidential race, the two rising GOP stars appeared at a fundraising event Sunday night.

But the event caught observers' attention as much for what the two — who failed to acknowledge each other's presence despite being a table-length apart — did not say as what they did.

Bachmann and Perry, along with former Pennsylvania Gov. Rick Santorum, attended the Black Hawk County GOP's Lincoln Day dinner in Waterloo — Bachmann's hometown — where they told activists that they have credibility on the party's leading priority: jobs.

Fresh off her win in the closely watched test vote, Bachmann portrayed herself as a mainstream Midwesterner. Newcomer Perry introduced himself as a common-sense executive focused on jobs.

Video: 2012 presidential race shifts into high gear (on this page)

Perry, the Texas governor, was mobbed by dozens of reporters for his first appearance as a candidate in the leadoff caucus state. In his remarks, he made no reference to Bachmann.

Image: Rick Perry
Chip Somodevilla  /  Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry addresses the Blackhawk County Republican annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the Electric Park Ballroom on Sunday in Waterloo, Iowa.

“We are in economic turmoil,” Perry said, according to The New York Times. “And if we don’t have a president of the United States who gets the country working again we are in trouble.”

Story: After Iowa, Republicans face a new landscape

Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, waited on her campaign bus in the ballroom parking lot while Perry spoke at the fundraiser, and entered the hall to her trademark introduction theme, Elvis Presley's version of "Promised Land."

“Yesterday, together, we sent that message to Washington, didn’t we,” she said, according to The New York Times. “We sent a message to Washington that Barack Obama’s time is extremely limited and that 2012 can’t come soon enough.”

Video: Meet the Candidate: Michele Bachmann

But the appearance served to underscore significant stylistic differences between the candidates.

The Texan arrived about 90 minutes before he was scheduled to speak and listened as local Republican activists and an Abraham Lincoln impersonator delivered speeches. Perry shook hands, posed for pictures and signed autographs with party activists, according to Politico.

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But Bachmann did not enter the venue until she had been assured by a campaign staffer that the lighting had been changed, NBC News' Jamie Novogrod reported. The stage was dramatically brighter following the change from the Perry campaign’s Tungsten lights to Bachmann’s HMI lights, witnesses said.

After she was finished speaking, Bachmann signed autographs from the stage, Politico said.

First Read: Perry praises Pawlenty, downplays contrast with Romney

The website reported that neither candidate made reference to one another in their respective speeches, nor did they engage with one another on the floor of the venue.

Image: Rick Perry
Chip Somodevilla  /  Getty Images
Texas Governor Rick Perry, center, waits for Rep. Michele Bachmann to take the stage during at an event in Waterloo, Iowa, on Sunday.

The music sound level was also raised for Bachmann’s entrance and exit, which irked one of the event organizers.

"We had a couple speakers scheduled to speak after her, and we were going to do our big ask for our fundraiser, but as soon as she was done, the music blasted up, she started signing autographs, and … people just started leaving," the organizer, a GOP official who was not named, told NBC News.

"So two speakers missed their chance to speak, and we missed our (chance) to ask the Republicans here for our fundraising — extra money that we needed to carry for the caucus," the organizer added.

'Like she was Madonna or something'
The contrast did not go unnoticed by local Republican activists, who traditionally value having direct contact with the candidates in their no-frills state contests.

"She didn't sit down to visit with us and eat with us," attendee Mel Shaw, 57, told the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper. "She came into the room like she was Madonna or something, a big star appearing before all us little people. She didn't want to answer questions. That's not the way we do politics here."

Video: Field of shaken dreams in Iowa after Straw Poll (on this page)

A segment of the GOP's establishment and economic conservatives have sat on the sidelines in the early months of the race, waiting for an alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Support for Romney, positioning himself as the Republican most associated with job creation, has been muted in some parts of the GOP primary electorate.

After Sunday’s event in Waterloo, Perry’s campaign declined to say when he would attempt to engage directly with either Bachmann or Romney in an effort to draw contrasts between them.

“The governor is going to focus on his vision for the country and his record,” The New York Times quoted campaign spokesman Mark Miner as saying.

“He’s going to focus on what his vision is to get America working again,” Miner told the paper.

Bachmann, speaking to reporters after her speech in Waterloo, said that she had not interacted with Perry because of a busy day that included a family visit in the town.

“We welcome Governor Perry to the race,” she said.

Slideshow: Republicans test the waters in Iowa (on this page)

In the 24 hours between Perry's announcement in Charleston, S.C., and his arrival in Iowa, the ground had shifted profoundly.

Bachmann beat her home-state rival Tim Pawlenty by more than 2-to-1 in the Iowa straw poll, an early test of caucus campaign strength. Pawlenty, a former two-term Minnesota governor, had put all his chips on a strong showing in the poll. But his distant third-place finish, behind Texas Rep. Ron Paul, prompted Pawlenty to quit the race Sunday morning .

Bachmann, on the other hand, rose sharply to the top of Iowa polls since launching her campaign in June, and made an aggressive push for straw poll support with evangelical pastors and Christian home-school backers.

NBC News' Jamie Novogrod, The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Video: Perry pitches presidential bid in Iowa

  1. Transcript of: Perry pitches presidential bid in Iowa

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now we turn to politics, the campaign trail of 2011 for 2012 , and for the Republicans it's a different ball game after this weekend. They have an altered lineup and a big-name new candidate. Now the president has joined in with a three- state bus tour of his own to lay out his case. We have two reports on this tonight, beginning with Kelly O'Donnell in Des Moines . Kelly , good evening.

    KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Good evening, Brian . It took just 48 hours to really shake up this race. Saturday's straw poll victory gives Michele Bachmann some new stature. It forced Tim Pawlenty to abandon his campaign. But the biggest difference right now, the Texas governor is off and running.

    Governor RICK PERRY: How's the John Deere man doing?

    O'DONNELL: Bringing his Texas -size personality to the Iowa State Fair for the first time ...

    Gov. PERRY: This way.

    O'DONNELL: ... Rick Perry , the longest-serving governor in Texas history , told Iowa he's ready for the White House .

    Gov. PERRY: I think you want a president that is passionate about America , that's in -- that's in love with America .

    O'DONNELL: Perry aides said their first goal is a stumble-free campaign rollout. Do you feel you're behind at all, just in timing?

    Gov. PERRY: Oh, you know, I got a little time to make up, I know that. I got -- I got in a little bit late.

    O'DONNELL: Introducing himself to voters as the son of a farmer, an Eagle Scout and Air Force pilot, Perry paid respect to Iowa tradition.

    Gov. PERRY: This is what it's all about...

    Unidentified Man: This is what it's about.

    Gov. PERRY: ...at the Iowa State Fair .

    O'DONNELL: And the voters need to be properly courted.

    Unidentified Woman: And let me tell you something else, I've been a Democrat my whole life and I might have to vote for you.

    Gov. PERRY: You might have to vote for me?

    Woman: I might have to. If I vote for...

    Gov. PERRY: Give me a chance.

    O'DONNELL: Perry 's launch soaked up attention typically showered on the straw poll winner, Michele Bachmann . Both spoke last night at a GOP dinner in her hometown, Waterloo .

    Representative MICHELE BACHMANN: My goal is to be bold, new, different, actually go in and take your voice.

    O'DONNELL: Appearing for her speech only, Bachmann 's campaign brought its own production of lights and music into a room seating about 300 people, stagecraft made for a TV audience. In that other crucial early voting state , New Hampshire , today national front-runner Mitt Romney was already taking on Perry , claiming his real-world business experience trumps Perry 's record as governor on jobs.

    Former Governor MITT ROMNEY: I wish Rick the very best, and as the process goes on we'll see whose background and skill most fits the need and the needs of the country at a critical time like this.

    O'DONNELL: And Romney insisted today that even though he has to engage and react to Perry , that that won't change his message, so he says. And tonight Michele Bachmann is headed off to South Carolina for her own bus tour in that

    other important state. Brian: Kelly O'Donnell at the fair in Des Moines tonight. Kelly ,

    WILLIAMS:

Photos: Republican candidates flood Iowa for state fair, straw poll

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  1. The Iowa Pork Producers Association makes its presence known by serving pork at the popular Iowa State Fair. Republican presidential candidates have blanketed the state for the GOP straw poll, a party fundraiser that serves as an organizational test for their campaigns. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and wife Callista grill pork at the Iowa State Fair. Gingrich was part of a large group of presidential candidates to visit the state over the weekend. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A campaign sign for Texas Rep. Ron Paul decorates a yard near the Iowa State Fair. Paul has a dedicated following in the state supporting his presidential bid. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at the Des Moines Register "soapbox" at the Iowa State Fair. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A protester tries to get Michele Bachmann to respond to a question about her opposition to same-sex marriage. Bachmann did not take any questions after her "soapbox" speech at the Iowa State Fair. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The annual Iowa State Fair is a popular and important place for Iowans to gather to keep up with advances in farming and agriculture. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin made a surprise appearance at the Iowa State Fair on Friday, where she spent time talking with fairgoers. Palin said she has not yet decided on a presidential bid. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fairgoers in Iowa get a glimpse at farm equipment like this John Deere tractor setup. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty speaks at the Des Moines Register "soapbax" at the state fair. Pawlenty has focused much of his campaign efforts in Iowa and was hoping for a strong showing at the GOP straw poll on Saturday. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee plays his bass guitar inside Tim Pawlenty's tent at the GOP straw poll in Ames, Iowa on Saturday. Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses in the 2008 Republican nomination contest. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. An attendee of the Republican straw poll in Ames, Iowa takes a moment to feed her baby in front of a bus emblazoned with a National Rifle Association banner. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Tim Pawlenty is surrounded by reporters and cameras as he campaigns for votes at the straw poll on Saturday. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Two Pawlenty supporters at the straw poll stand between cardboard cutouts of former GOP presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum waits to speak inside the auditorium at the Iowa straw poll. Santorum was one of six presidential candidates to address supporters in Ames on Saturday. (Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News
    Above: Slideshow (14) Republicans test the waters in Iowa
  2. Marcy Nighswander / AP
    Slideshow (28) A look at Gov. Rick Perry's political career
  3. Image: George Bush
    Evan Vucci / AP
    Slideshow (15) The political life of Michele Bachmann

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