CEDAR RAPIDS — As the “one, true conservative” in the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said she’s best positioned to challenge President Obama.

“I will defeat him,” Bachmann said Thursday in Cedar Rapids. “I will shred his radical policies in the debate and I can’t wait to do it.”

The Iowa native who has seen her fortunes rise to the top of the field in the Iowa GOP Straw Poll then fall to single digits in recent polls, expressed confidence Iowans will “come home” to her in the Jan. 3 caucuses.

Bachmann said she will return to her early summer campaign style.

“It was a very personal campaign,” she said. “We went city-to-city, we were very aggressive, we did probably six stops every day … and it was a lot of fun.”

Bachmann also is stepping up her criticism of her rivals — Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, in particular, who are atop recent polls.

The campaign, which Bachmann referred to as a “political Wall Street” with candidates rising and falling like the stock market, has produced a lot of surprises for voters.

“Maybe (voters) didn’t know about Newt Gingrich’s background on being for the individual mandate,” she said. “And Mitt Romney was the grandfather or the originator of the idea of the individual mandate to require citizens to buy health insurance.

As caucusgoers examine those candidates’ records, they will see “they are on the wrong side of the health care issue, the wrong side of the immigration issue, the wrong side of cap-and-trade, issue after issue,” Bachman said.

“When (caucusgoers) peel the layers back … they are trying to find who really is the true conservative and who’s going to fight for their values,” Bachmann said. “Come Jan. 3, they are going to come back home and recognize, ‘She didn’t surprise us.’ ”

Caucusgoers will “come home” to her because of her strong pro-life stance and support for traditional marriage, Bachmann predicted.

“Usually when I’m at town halls, people are asking about jobs and the economy,” Bachmann said, “but it’s a deal-breaker for a lot Iowans if a candidate is not truly pro-life and pro-traditional marriage.”

Bachmann was a guest at the Five Seasons Republican Women’s Christmas Party Thursday night and will campaign in Des Moines Friday before participating in the Des Moines Register/ABC/Yahoo!/ Republican Party of Iowa live presidential debate at Drake University Saturday evening.

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