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In her Iowa birthplace, Bachmann enters race

Republican Michele Bachmann officially launched her White House bid Monday, casting herself as a hard-charging conservative capable of carrying the party into the 2012 election over a crowded field of GOP rivals so far treading lightly around the tea party favorite.

On a sun-splashed morning in the yard of a historic mansion here, the three-term Minnesota congresswoman insisted the nation can't afford another four years of President Obama and railed against debt, joblessness and the president's sweeping health care law.

"Americans agree that our country is in peril today, and we must act with urgency to save it," she told the crowd. "And Americans aren't interested in affiliation; they are interested in solutions, and leadership that will tell the truth. And the truth is that Americans are the solution, and not the government."

The backdrop served as a powerful reminder of Bachmann's connection to Iowa and its importance in the presidential sweepstakes. Waterloo is Bachmann's birthplace. An Iowa poll shows Bachmann essentially tied with national front-runner Mitt Romney.

Bachmann is betting that her standing with the tea party and with evangelical Christians will deliver a victory in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Meanwhile, Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace said Monday he "messed up" by asking Bachmann whether she's a flake, and apologized.

Wallace posted the video apology after his "Fox News Sunday" interview with Bachmann.

Wallace said on the Fox program that Bachmann had a reputation in Washington for making questionable statements. He paused and asked her: "Are you a flake?"

Bachmann answered that she was a "serious person" and found insinuations that she was a flake to be "insulting."

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