Bachmann Campaign Rides High Into Upstate
Fresh off of victory in Iowa, Rep. Michele Bachmann ripped President Obama and tried to extend her appeal to varying kinds of conservatives during two events.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann used her momentum from the weekend's victory at the Ames Straw Poll to appeal to a broader coalition of conservatives Tuesday as she visited the Upstate.
Bachmann used the beginning of a brief town hall-style meeting at the TD Bank Convention Center in Greenville to correct a gaffe she made just hours earlier in Spartanburg, when she impressed many potential voters in a stop at the Beacon Drive-In.
Bachmann -- who used the same intro music in Spartanburg that she did in Greenville, Elvis Presley's "Promised Land" -- erroneously stated in Spartanburg it was the king of rock and roll's birthday. In fact, Tuesday represented the anniversary of Presley's death.
"You can't do better than 'Promised Land.' Today is the day that we observe the passing of Elvis Presley. Did you know that?" Bachmann said in Greenville. "So we have a little bit of 'Promised Land' for your benefit."
Bachmann took questions from three members of the audience of several hundred people, but spent the majority of the Greenville leg of her Upstate visit railing against President Barack Obama's stance on raising the debt ceiling, as well as his signature political victory to date in healthcare reform.
Bachmann highlighted what she considers an irresponsible policy of spending in Washington by using a white dry-erase board, saying it took Obama less than four years to double the nation's debt.
Bachmann wrote in full numerical form "$8,670,000,000,000" - or $8.76 trillion - and then wrote $16.7 trillion in the same manner underneath it.
"The first number, 8.67 trillion, took us 219 years from the passage of the constitution to get to this point," Bachmann said. "It took us four more years to almost double it."
Using the same white board, she illustrated how the nation collects some $2.2 trillion in tax revenue from Americans every year, and manages to spend at least $1.5 trillion more than that. Bachmann used the gathering as a chance to market her brand of conservatism as an option for those of varying political philosophies within the conservative school of thought.
"Fiscal conservatives, I'm one of those. National security conservatives, I'm one of those. Social conservatives, I'm one of those," Bachmann said. "And the Tea Party, I'm one of those.
"With this movement, this broad-based movement that is far more than just Republicans; it's independent and disaffected Democrats and apolitical people. With this wide swath of Americans, I'm just here to announce to you today there's on doubt in my mind that we will win in 2012, and Barack Obama will come to the end of his presidency."
She harped again on spending when asked by a member of the audience what she would do in the first 100 days of office.
"I will focus on spending immediately because that's what we have to do. You saw the numbers. they don't add up. They don't add up for one year," Bachmann said.
Just days removed from edging libertarian-leaning Ron Paul in Iowa, Bachmann wasted no time in moving straight to the Palmetto State, where the primary has a nearly perfect record of predicting the future GOP candidate in the general election.
Bachmann’s remarks in Spartanburg a few hours earlier were similar to those in Greenville, minus the white board. And the response that met her was similar as well, although she did brush off a heckler who questioned her conservative credentials.
Many of those who came to see Bachmann in Spartanburg said they have narrowed down their preference to either Bachmann or Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with the qualification that they would support the nominee regardless of who it may be.
Two of the younger attendees, Tony Ream and Victoria Garrett of Wofford and Converse colleges, respectively, fit into that category but counted themselves among the disillusioned.
“I’m tired of wasteful government spending but mostly we’ve just lost hope in politicians. They just don’t do their jobs,” Ream said.
“A politician’s past tells you what they’re going to do in the future,” Garrett said. “And Bachmann has a consistent record.”
Spartanburg GOP Chairwoman LaDonna Ryggs believes Bachmann is well-positioned as the campaign enters a new phase with Perry now in the race and the Iowa Straw Poll complete.
“(Bachmann) has shown she can organize a campaign and people know her record,” Ryggs said. “Now she just has to continue talking about the issues that matter here.”
Thus far, Bachmann has largely avoided criticizing her fellow Republicans and focused on her own campaign.
“I have a strong set of core principles and that’s what I stand on, even if it’s to my own detriment,” Bachmann said.
In a session with the media in Spartanburg, she passed on the opportunity to distinguish herself from Perry or any of the GOP candidates, instead emphasizing her record in contrast to President Obama.
That seems to be fine with her supporters.
“The man in the White House is not qualified to be the assistant manager at this restaurant, yet he was elected to be the CEO of the largest corporation in the world,” said Ted Plum of Greenville, referring to the Beacon Drive-In.
If the Obama administration was the biggest recipient of criticism from Bachmann and her supporters, the media was a close second.
“She gets asked questions that have nothing to do with politics,” said Ralph Voyles of Spartanburg, said citing the question Bachmann was asked about her relationship with her husband Marcus at last Thursday’s debate.
“I like her,” said Jim Ryan of Boiling Springs. “She’s an underdog because she’s a woman and she’s not popular with the media. I like the underdog.”
One attendee gave Bachmann the highest praise possible for a conservative woman: “She’s Reagan in a dress.”
Bachmann will move further into the low country of the state as the week progresses, as she'll visit The Hall at Senate's End in Columbia and the Florence Civic Center on Thursday, and the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel in Myrtle Beach and Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mt. Pleasant on Friday.