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In Iowa, Bachmann Highlights Her Tea Party Appeal

In Iowa, Bachmann Highlights Her Tea Party Appeal

By Scott Conroy - June 27, 2011


WATERLOO, Iowa -- As early-morning clouds parted just in time to create a picture-perfect setting, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann officially entered the 2012 presidential campaign here on Monday by presenting herself as the Republican candidate who has most fully embraced the small-government ideals of the tea party movement.

"We can't continue to rack up debt and . . . put it on the backs of the next generation," Bachmann said as she stood in front of a historic 19th-century home. "We can't afford the unconstitutional health care law that will cost us too much and deliver so little. We can't afford four more years of failed leadership here at home and abroad. We can't afford four more years of millions of Americans who are out of work and who aren't making enough in wages to support a family."

Though she is well-known for her staunch, socially conservative views, the three-term congresswoman avoided mentioning in her announcement speech hot-button issues like abortion and gay marriage, which have played central roles in the Iowa discourse during past presidential cycles.

Instead, Bachmann focused her remarks almost entirely on the nation's economic woes, as she made the case for a return to the simple tenets of spending cuts and a return to the libertarian-leaning values that she suggested had defined the country's foundation.

"Government thinks it knows better how to spend our money; government thinks they know better how to make a better life for us," Bachmann said. "They think they create jobs -- they even think they can make us healthier -- but that's not the case. We have to recapture the founders' vision of a constitutionally conservative government if we are to secure the promise of the future."

As she did in a previous event here on Sunday night, Bachmann played to the hometown crowd and repeatedly highlighted her roots in this small northeast Iowa city.

"My younger days, like so many Americans', were difficult, especially during the years of my mother's struggle after a divorce," she said. "But we made our own way. We depended on our neighbors, we depended on ourselves. It wasn't our government that we depended on for our help because we trusted in God and in our neighbors, and not in government. Americans still have that same spirit."

Bachmann's political stock has risen steadily since her strong performance at a recent GOP debate in New Hampshire, and a Des Moines Register poll released on Sunday confirmed her newfound status as a front-runner, with Mitt Romney, in Iowa.

But as a largely untested figure on the national stage, Bachmann will have to prove in the coming weeks that her abilities on the campaign trail can live up to the increased expectations that now surround her candidacy.

After her event here on Monday, Bachmann flew to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire to attend a private party there. She was then scheduled to travel to South Carolina for five events over the course of the next day-and-a-half.

Bachmann is slated to return to Iowa later this week and will begin to barnstorm the state that might make or break her candidacy, as she continues to make the case that she is well-positioned to expand her tea party appeal to the broader Republican electorate.

"It may have started small, but our voice is growing louder, and our voice is growing stronger," Bachmann said during her announcement speech. "And it's made up of Americans from all walks of life like a three-legged stool. It's made up of peace-through-strength conservatives, and I am one of those. It is made up of fiscal conservatives, and I am one of those. It is made up of social conservatives, and I am one of those. And it's made up of the tea party movement, and I am one of those."

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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