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October 4th, 2011

Grinnell College Protesters Disrupt Bachmann/FAMiLY Leader Event

As Michele Bachmann campaigned in Iowa the last couple of days, she pleaded with potential caucus goers not to settle for a candidate who wavers on important issues such as the life of the unborn.  Bachmann took that message to Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Newton, and Grinnell.

In many respects, the Bachmann campaign is starting anew.  Gone is her luxury tour bus and the blaring music that was used to announce her arrival at events.  Bachmann now travels in a 15-passenger van and holds her events in community centers, coffee shops, and hotels just like other candidates.

Bachmann seemed very comfortable at Uncle Nancy’s coffee shop in Newton yesterday afternoon.  She took her time and worked the room as she entered the popular coffee shop, and then took questions and mingled with people as she made her exit.  The role of the underdog candidate appears to be a better fit for Bachmann’s style of politics than being the frontrunner who only talks to large audiences and is more difficult to approach.

The final event on Bachmann’s latest campaign swing, a fundraiser for the FAMiLY Leader at Danny Carroll’s pumpkin patch in Grinnell, didn’t go quite as planned.  Over 60 Grinnell College students showed up to the fundraiser.  It was apparent early on what was going on, but the Bachmann campaign didn’t seem too alarmed.

The Grinnell College students waited patiently along with other guests in the upper level of the barn where the event was to take place.  Shortly after 6 p.m., Joy Carroll, Danny’s wife, could be seen directing paid guests to a different location on the farm.  Instead of holding the event as planned, the Bachmann campaign made the decision to meet privately with supporters of the FAMiLY Leader in the Carrolls’ home.

Not only was the decision made not to speak in the barn as planned, but the Carrolls also called the authorities to help manage the situation.  A total of five police cars were dispatched to the Carroll farm, and law enforcement officials cordoned off the protesters from the grounds of the house and the pumpkin farm so that Bachmann could take a tour.

For the most part the protestors were very polite.  When Bachmann was outside, the crowd watched from afar.  They attempted to clap and chant, but did nothing that distracted Bachmann on her tour.  As time passed by, some protesters brought signs to hold up.  Most of them made political statements about gay marriage, while other signs made fun of Bachmann.

Alice Stewart, Bachmann’s national press secretary, told the media that the event was private fundraiser, which is why Bachmann addressed the paying patrons in the Carrolls’ home.  Stewart’s explanation seemed odd considering that the media was invited to cover the event, which indicates that the event was not initially intended to be private.

It was also strange that neither the Bachmann campaign nor the Carrolls attempt to keep the Grinnell College students from entering the area where Bachmann was going to speak.  If the event was indeed closed and the students didn’t pay, why were they allowed to go to the second floor of the barn in the first place?

Bachmann’s decision to avoid a potentially hostile crowd also sets a bad precedent.  While it was easy for Bachmann to avoid the protesters by going into a private home, what would she have done had they shown up to her meet and greet in Grinnell earlier in the day?  Would Bachmann have cancelled her event because of a potentially hostile crowd?

Running for President is no easy task, but being able to deal with an unfriendly crowd is a necessity in modern day politics.  Calling the authorities was probably the correct call due to the large number of protestors who showed up to the Carroll farm, but Bachmann’s refusal to give her remarks as planned only emboldens the protesters, who could now look to cause more trouble for Bachmann in the future.

Bachmann’s handling of the event may have allowed her to escape from an uncomfortable situation, but she also missed an opportunity to display her “titanium spine.”

Below are photos from the event as well as a few short videos.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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