Leading the pack of Republican presidential hopefuls, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann are riding the same issue out of Iowa: jobs.
One day after Perry's announcement of his candidacy, he and Bachmann appeared back-to-back at Black Hawk County's Lincoln Day dinner in northern Iowa and told GOP faithful they have credibility and experience creating jobs.
"I happen to think the biggest issue facing this country is that we are facing economic turmoil, and if we don't have a president that doesn't get this country working, we're in trouble," Perry told about 300 Republican activists in Waterloo's Electric Park Ballroom. "And I've got a track record."
Perry was mobbed by dozens of reporters at the dinner, his first appearance as a candidate in the leadoff caucus state. He plans to hold private meetings with GOP elected officials as he travels around the state Monday and Tuesday in a motor coach splashed with his name and the slogan "Get America Working Again." On Tuesday, Perry plans to hold an economic roundtable with businesspeople in Dubuque.
"We're going to spend a lot of time in Iowa," Perry told reporters.
The reaction to Perry was a sharp contrast to another part of the room, where presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, moved through the crowd with less commotion.
Perry struggled to move from table to table. "It's going to be a big time," Perry told Cedar Falls Republican Jeanie Balthazor.
Bachmann 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."
At the dinner, Bachmann touted her experience running her family's small business in Minnesota.
"We started our own successful small company," she told reporters. "We know how to build from scratch, putting capital together and starting a business from scratch and building it up so that we can actually offer jobs to people."
She also stressed her opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage, issues Perry did not touch in his remarks.
"Without social conservatives it will be very difficult to beat Barack Obama in 2012," Bachmann said.