Michele Bachmann, whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination fizzled after an early boost from Christian conservatives, bowed out of the race Wednesday after a poor finish in Iowa.
'Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice and so I have decided to stand aside,' she said.
Bachmann, who came in sixth in the Iowa caucuses, ended her campaign with a vow to fight on against President Barack Obama, insisting the November presidential election might be a last chance 'to turn the nation around before we go down the road to socialism.'
But the congresswoman from Minnesota, a Christian evangelical who was an early favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, gave no indication whether she would throw her support behind another candidate.
She won only five percent of the Republican vote in Iowa, the first state-wide party nominating contest, which ended in a virtual tie between former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and dark horse Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania.
Bachmann was born in Iowa, and the heartland state had been the scene of her most important victory, a straw poll in August that served as the first winnowing of the large Republican field.
But she was pushed aside almost immediately by the entry into the race of Texas Governor Rick Perry, another loser in Tuesday's contest, and never regained momentum in a volatile contest that saw nearly every other candidate rise and fall in the polls.
A former tax lawyer and three-term member of Congress, Bachmann, 55, staked out positions against big government, with calls for slashing taxes and debt, while touting her credentials as a Christian evangelical opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage.
At times strident in debate and with a taste for right-wing invective, she portrayed herself as an uncompromising legislator who opposed Obama at every turn -- on health care reform, the Wall Street bailout and finance reforms, and raising the debt ceiling.
Railing against Obama's 'agenda of socialism,' Bachmann exited the race with a warning that the country was in serious trouble and that 'the implementation of Obamacare will represent a turning point for our country and our economy.'
'I ran because I believed that since day one Barack Obama's policies based on socialism are destructive to the very foundation of the republic,' she said.
Despite her loss Tuesday, Bachmann was an early rock star of the Tea Party movement, adept at fundraising and gaining media attention.
The founder of the Tea Party Caucus in the House, she ran for a party leadership position in 2010, but ultimately withdrew her bid amid simmering party rivalries. Instead, she was given a position on the House Intelligence Committee, which oversees the CIA.
During her presidential campaign, Bachmann brandished her national security credentials by attacking Obama on his handling of Iran and treatment of Israel, at one point warning 'the table is being set for world-wide nuclear war against Israel.'
On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, she told CBS television that if elected she would erect a blockade against Tehran and put US missiles on alert 'to let Iran know that we mean business.'
A mother of five with 23 foster children, Bachmann and her husband Steve own a Christian counseling practice, run by her husband. As young activists, they prayed outside abortion clinics in Minneapolis.