LEXINGTON, S.C. — Rep. Michele Bachmann on Wednesday afternoon wowed a crowd of about 200 that gathered for a first look at the Minnesota Republican just two days after she formally launched her White House bid.
Bachmann arrived at the parking lot of the Flight Deck restaurant in this community about 10 miles west of Columbia on a campaign bus emblazoned with “Michele Bachmann For President.” She hit several policy and philosophical themes expected from any of the GOP candidates running for the 2012 nomination, while taking pointed digs at President Barack Obama and ignoring her primary opponents.
“We mean business; we’re taking no prisoners and we’re going all the way to the White House,” Bachmann said to hearty applause. Following her remarks, the Congresswoman signed autographs and posed for pictures before departing for a similar event in Greenville, S.C., a key Republican stronghold.
The crowd in attendance was approximately half Bachmann supporters and half voters interested in learning more about the only woman currently running in the GOP field. Many said they planned to take their time making a decision on whom to back in this crucial early battleground state. But it was clear they found Bachmann appealing — and there were no complaints from anyone that she is right on the issues but fails to inspire. That charge has been leveled at much of the GOP field.
Debbie Myers, a grandmother from Lexington, has yet to throw her support to a particular candidate but was on hand to help the Bachmann team with the event. She said she was supporting the most conservative candidates running, generally, and was doing what she could to learn about them. Myers, socially conservative and of the belief that fiscal and social issues are inextricably linked, said only Bachmann and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) would qualify for her vote if the contest was being decided today.
“I’m not going to hold my nose and vote this time — and that’s for the party elite,” Myers said, in reference to her general election vote for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008.
Tommy Plonk, a 64 year-old resident of West Columbia, S.C., who is in the real estate title business, indicated that his preferred ticket is Minnesota Gov. Tom Pawlenty at the top, with Bachmann taking the No. 2 slot.
Like Myers, Plonk has yet to decide whom he will vote for; although the self-described social conservative differed from Myers somewhat, saying economic issues might trump social concerns in this election given the state of the economy.
“I would love to see Michele Bachmann or Tim Pawlenty win,” Plonk said. “Either I see as a person that would be most like Ronald Reagan than anybody we’ll see in our lifetime.”
Bachmann, wearing a sleeveless yellow sundress, was joined on stage by her husband Marcus, who was wearing a black suit and matching yellow tie. The Flight Deck, owned by a Republican city councilman from Lexington, is a regular stop on the presidential campaign trail for GOP candidates.
During her remarks, Bachmann associated herself with the “three-legged stool” of conservatism — saying she was in line with GOP and tea party voters on fiscal, social and national security issues. She hit Obama on the economy, the health care law, Israel and the federal policy outlawing certain light bulbs, among other subjects.
“When Michele Bachmann is in the White House, we’re going to be banning teleprompters,” the Congresswoman said, repeating a dig Republicans usually direct at Obama.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.