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As Law Student, Bachmann Recalled as Smart, Conservative-Minded

By Erin McPike - July 5, 2011

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"She really believes in what she's doing," Stewart said. " She's an ideologue."

Jeffrey Londoff, another Oral Roberts classmate of Bachmann's, remembered her as being "very religious and very family-oriented" -- and "one heck of a woman."

The law school stressed exercising the "body, mind and spirit," a call for well-roundedness that Bachmann took to heart. "I remember seeing her running all the time," said Londoff, now an attorney in St. Louis. "She worked out constantly."

Part of what has captivated conservative activists is Bachmann's poise and confidence -- traits that suggest authenticity, and an aura of knowing exactly who she is.

According to Londoff, Bachmann exuded such traits in law school, whether she was getting grilled in class by her professors or when addressing her classmates. As he put it, most of the other students cowered under pressure, but she didn't.

"Here's what impressed me," he said. "She would give these presentations in a way that made it seem like she was never nervous."

He continued, "When she would stand up, you'd hardly ever see her flinch. I think that's helped her even now. She never got rattled; she never got upset. People always thought about what she said. She was so calm and cool and collected. She respected her professors and teachers, and they respected her."

Despite a consistency of social beliefs and personality that span decades, many details of her education remain murky for reasons that have nothing to do with Bachmann -- and everything to do with our modern, highly polarized politics. Even if her classmates remember her well, many of her professors and contemporaries are reluctant to share those recollections due to apparent distrust of the media over what happened to one of the teachers at Oral Roberts.

Anita Hill was one of Bachmann's law professors there. Hill taught one of the toughest courses, graduates recall: commercial transactions, a thrice-weekly course. Stewart said most of Hill's students were questioned by reporters about their professor during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in light of Hill's salacious allegations about the nominee; Stewart suspects Bachmann was among the group who would have been approached by the press. (The congresswoman's office has not responded to requests for comment about whether she was one of them.)

Hill now works as a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management and did not reply to multiple requests for comment, but she did discuss RCP's inquiries with one of her former students, Kenneth Ferguson, now an associate professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City law school. Ferguson, in turn, reached out to Londoff, who told RCP that there remains some tension among the group about talking to the press because of what happened to Hill nearly two decades ago.

Perhaps indicative of this tension is the response of John Eidsmoe, another former law professor of Bachmann's. Reached by telephone he said -- before fielding even a single question -- "No comments and thank you for calling." He quickly hung up.

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Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at emcpike@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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