Bachmann, Pawlenty challenge each other in debate

By the Associated Press | August 11, 2011 | 9:44 PM EDT

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Fellow Minnesotans Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann directly challenged each other at the GOP debate in Iowa, with Pawlenty calling her a failure and Bachmann likening her Republican competitor to President Barack Obama.

The two sparred face-to-face during Thursday's debate, just two days before the crucial early test vote in Ames. The exchange began with a question whether the two have pushed the limit of civility, known as "Minnesota nice."

Pawlenty says that if Bachmann considers herself a success, she should remind herself of her failed efforts to block laws in the House, such as the health overhaul and the debt ceiling increase

Bachmann says Pawlenty pushed an environmental overhaul similar to the Democrats' effort, a mandate for health care coverage and for bigger government spending. In her words, "That sounds a lot like Barack Obama to me."