It was Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s turn to try to woo Bob Vander Plaats and the supporters of The FAMiLY Leader at the group’s ongoing Presidential Lecture Series.
The FAMiLY Leader held its normal trio of events yesterday in Pella, Iowa City, and Sioux Center. Bachmann spoke in Pella and Iowa City, but was unable to attend Orange City. Congressman Ron Paul, whose plane was unable to land in Orange City last month, spoke at The FAMiLY Leader’s event there.
Even though many Iowans still wonder how serious Bachmann is about running for president, her recent activities suggest that she’s very serious. Steering her Iowa team is State Senator Kent Sorenson. Like Bachmann, Sorenson appeals to both social conservatives and Tea Party activists. Bachmann has also added a former Iowa Huckabee operative, Wes Enos, to the staff of her political action committee. Enos was the political director for Huckabee’s 2008 caucus campaign.
While Sorenson and Enos’ involvement on her behalf are the most apparent signs that she’s engaging Iowans, and thus serious about seeking the Republican nomination for president, it was Bachmann’s speech in Pella yesterday that convinced me that Bachmann is more than just flirting with the idea of running for president.
Bachmann used her appearance at The FAMiLY Leader’s Presidential Lecture Series to make a play for the people on whom a Bachmann Iowa Caucus campaign would rely – Christian constitutionalists. Bachmann accomplished a number of things in her address.
Bachmann proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is a Christian and has a Christian worldview. It’s one thing to say that you have a Christian worldview, it’s another thing to actually take the time to describe to the audience why you believe what you do. For most political operatives Bachmann’s account of when she accepted Christ into her life might have seemed unnecessary, but for this crowd people, it’s important for them to know what makes a candidate tick. Bachmann’s detailed account of her faith walk allows potential supporters to know her at a deeper level than other candidates.
I’m just like you. Yes, Bachmann is a native Iowan, but she went even further to prove this point. Most presidential candidates try to impress their audience by either bragging about their legislative accomplishments or telling stories about things that they have experienced that most Iowans will never have an opportunity to do themselves. She also used he speech to talk about the issue that propelled her into politics.
Bachmann, who has five biological children and has fostered 23 others, originally got involved in politics because of education issues. Her five biological children all attended a Christian school, but state law prevented the Bachmann’s from sending their foster kids to a Christian school or even home schooling them.
She also talked at length about her opposition to the federal government’s educational program from the 1990’s called Goals 2000. Goals 2000 was a precursor to No Child Left Behind. It created a national curriculum along with benchmarks and standards to measure students. With Bachmann’s help, Minnesota was the only state to overturn the program.
Bachmann also talked about other issues she fought for while in the Minnesota State Senate. She supported a number of pro-life pieces of legislations, like a woman’s right to know law and a statistical reporting law. She was also the lead sponsor of the Minnesota marriage amendment. Her inclusion of her early activism and support of issues that Iowa conservatives are still wrestling with also helped her relate to the audience.
Conservatives needs a fighter – I’m a fighter. While Bachmann made sure nobody left her lecture without understanding what she believes, she also made sure Iowans know that she’s a fighter, and that’s exactly what conservatives need right now. She highlighted her objection to the deal that House Republican leaders agreed to last weekend that prevented a government shutdown.
Bachmann said her chief objection to the deal is that it still funds the implementation of Obamacare. Bachmann said, “We will never win if we don’t fight.” Bachmann said that sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand, and Obamacare is one of those instances, especially since the American people put Republicans in control of the US House of Representatives to do one thing, stop Obamacare.
By all accounts, Bachmann had a great day in Iowa. She proved that she’s the conservative’s conservative, and that alone will carry her a long way in a state like Iowa. While Bachmann was hitting on all cylinders, the turnout for The FAMiLY Leader’s event in Pella was surprisingly low.
Pella is a bastion for conservative votes, and Bachmann’s brand of politics should do well in that area of the state. While she has nothing to do with the turnout of the event expect for putting her name on the marquee, the lectures by Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul were better attended.
If there is one thing that Bachmann has overlooked in Iowa early on, it’s that not all political activity takes place in central Iowa. When you look at her Iowa staff and advisors, it’s very dominated by central Iowans. While she has created a lot of buzz in the state, she has yet to really venture out of the Polk County echo chamber.
If she is serious about seeing the Republican nomination for president, she needs to focus on meeting Iowans from all across the state, not just generating media coverage. Trust me, the media will flock to where ever she happens to be on any particular day.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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