Tim Pawlenty at event in Ames.

Since Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann surged in public opinion polls of the Republican presidential field, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has been raising questions about Bachmann as he campaigns in Iowa.

Pawlenty repeatedly stresses his “executive experience” in contrast with rivals like Bachmann, who has been a member of the U.S. congress since 2007.

“I’ve said before and I’ll say again: her record of accomplishment in the United States congress is non-existent,” Pawlenty told reporters in Indianola this week.  “And I think whether it’s her or anybody else, they have to have in these times executive experience.” 

Bachmann defends her record both as a state legislator and a member of congress.

“I think you can see quite clearly (from) my time in Minnesota, my time in Washington, D.C.,” Bachmann said Wednesday in Norwalk. “I have a rock solid record as being a fiscal conservative and a real fiscal hawk. I’ve done it.”

Pawlenty suggests putting up “yes” or “no” votes is one thing, but making executive decisions is another.

“I think it’s reasonable for the American people to expect that the person they put in charge of the country and put in the Oval Office as president of the United States and commander-in-chief have run something before that’s a large enterprise with a public component to it and led it to successful results,” Pawlenty said this morning in Ames. “I have done that.”

Michele Bachmann talks with a supporter.

Bachmann, meanwhile, calls herself as a “fighter” who isn’t afraid to confront Democrats and fellow Republicans.

“I stood up against President Bush,” Bachmann told the crowd in Norwalk this week. “I love President Bush. I voted for him twice, but I stood up to him on the $700 billion bailout…Arms got twisted and it passed and I think that was a mistake..because it was so outrageous.”

Bachmann served six years in the Minnesota state senate before her election to congress in 2006. Pawlenty served two terms as governor of Minnesota. He had previously been a state legislator for a decade, rising to become the Republican leader in the Minnesota House.