The video: Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty took a pretty big swipe at fellow Minnesotan and rival 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann on Sunday's Meet the Press. (View clip below.) "Well, I like Congresswoman Bachmann," he told NBC's David Gregory. "I've campaigned for her. I respect her, but her record of accomplishment in Congress is non-existent." The GOP doesn't need "folks who just have speech capabilities," he added. Bachmann — who is handily beating Pawlenty is most recent polls, especially in Iowa — defended her record as a fighter, then hit back at Pawlenty's "negativity" and, indirectly, his past support for cap-and-trade climate change legislation.
The reaction: "Finally, the claws come out," says Andre Tartar in New York. And just in the nick of time for Pawlenty. He's perhaps the biggest loser in the "all-out lovefest" among GOP rivals, and he badly needs to deflate Bachmann before she trounces him in Iowa, snuffing out his campaign. "Going on the attack" might also be just what Pawlenty needs to put some spice into his bland campaign, says Matt Schneider in Mediaite. But he'll have to be more aggressive than this milquetoast hit on Bachmann, and he can't just pick on girls: Pawlenty needs to be "more eager to take on current top dog, Mitt Romney," especially after wimping out on his "Obamneycare" hit in the New Hampshire debate. Watch Pawlenty's comments: