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Bachmann in Iowa: 'I’m here to be a part of that conversation for 2012'

DES MOINES, Iowa — For just a moment there, the crowd at the Des Moines Marriott might have thought they were about to hear a presidential announcement.

“With pride in my heart, I am proud to announce,” and she paused and the crowd murmured and she paused some more and then finally… “that it’s good to be home!”

With that she launched into the long version of the story about her Norwegian immigrant family who almost had to leave her 11-year-old great-great grandfather on the dock because they couldn’t pay his fare, to enduring winters, floods, drought and locusts in the young United States. They finally settled in Iowa, in the state where Bachmann was born.

“All of us descended from risk-takers,” she summed up her family's story, “they decided to shake the dice and make it happen.”

The question hanging in the air: Is she a risk-taker too? Will she take the risk, take the plunge and run for the presidency of the United States?

“I know it is shocking that when a girl goes to Iowa that that speculation might come along,” she said following the speech Friday night before a group organized by the Iowans for Tax Relief. And then she gave the clearest possible answer one can give about her intentions as they stand right now.

“But I’m here to be a part of that conversation for 2012. I certainly am a part of the conversation — there’s been no decision about a candidacy but I certainly want to be a part of that conversation, most definitely.”

Judging by today, it’s hard to see how she wouldn’t be.

The virtue of being ordinary

Bachmann’s speech was designed to exalt the ordinary American while challenging them to demand an exceptional country. The challenge, she said, was to not accept a managed decline into being an ordinary nation.

The United States, she said, "will always be here as a piece of real estate," the question is whether USA will remain as an "exceptional nation" in the world. “An ordinary America, in my opinion, is no America at all.”

The problems facing the nation, she said, were legion, but they all came back to a theme of government overreach and, more pointedly, debt.

The U.S., she warned, could quickly become enslaved by debt. She used the word slavery multiple times talking about debt (including once warning that the media would misconstrue her intent).

She even paralleled the current situation with the slavery that existed in the U.S. throughout the early and mid-1800s, but said that America was a “self-correcting country.”

Once again, she said, the U.S. must correct its course. We can see the iceberg, she said in a reference to the ill-fated Titanic, and must turn away.

For Bachmann, the opportunity to do that comes in 2012. And she sounded for all the world like she might be offering herself as a solution. 

“It is in your hands, Iowans, that this question will be decided,” she told the assembled crowd. “You will be the ones who decide.

“And that is why I am so excited because I feel like I know you, because I was born here. I was raised here. These are my values. I feel like we understand each other and I trust you with that decision.”

A success by most metrics

Sure, there were hiccups in Bachmann’s first trip to Iowa. The front half of her speech may have been five minutes too long for some in the crowd, and her staff will take it as a lesson learned that some activists will grumble if you show up for a coffee hour 90 minutes late.

But I spoke with about 75 percent of those at the coffee hour earlier in the day. All those I talked to brushed it up and at the end of her speech professed that they loved her. And again tonight, those whose eyes wandered at the start of her speech stared in rapt attention near the close and ended with a standing ovation.

Those who met with Bachmann today said she impressed. Ed Failor Jr., head of the Iowans for Tax Relief group that organized the event, said Bachmann “measured up well” to other candidates he’s seen speak, including Tim Pawlenty.

“I think she’ll do really well,” he said of her chances in Iowa, because she’s an “ordinary person. If she was my neighbor, I’d invite she and [her husband] Marcus over for dinner.”

Putting on a skeptical hat for a second, Failor had just had Bachmann deliver a financial windfall for his group by getting a standing-room-only crowd to pay for the privilege of hearing her. And by logical skeptical extension, one might expect someone willing to pay to hear a speaker to like the speech.

But it looked to this observer like Failor was right. However, let's be skeptical again and say I and the rest of the Minnesota media don't know Iowa like Iowa media folks do.

OK then, for a neutral opinion from someone who really knows the landscape here, here’s what Kathie Obradovich, political columnist for and the former political editor of the Des Moines Register, wrote at the conclusion of Bachmann's remarks. Turns out, she said the exact same thing.

“If Bachmann is considering a run, this first trip to Iowa has to be considered a success."

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Comments (5)

It occurs to me that one can become enslaved to unemployment even quicker than one can become enslaved to debt.
There is a cost to cutting domestic spending, and that is that it will increase unemployment - either directly by laying off government employees, or indirectly by reducing government consumption of products and services which will in turn reduce the employment of those rendering those products and services.

If Bachmann is really serious about running for President or at least increasing her national profile and impact by doing so I predict that in a short time she will bury Pawlenty in the Iowa Poll. They both appeal to the same Tea Party wing of the Republican Party but her craziness and ability to attract the media will litterally overwhelm the boring style and mixed up image (trying to be more verbally dynamic while also being reasonable in the wake of the Arizona shootings) being displayed by the Minnesota Governor.

Of course, the same things that could get Bachmann nominated are the ones that would prevent her from getting elected.
Something about a tendency to put a foot in one's mouth and shoot oneself in it.

And a 50 year old referring to herself as a 'girl'? Is she trying to be younger than Sarah Palin as well as crazier?

"Bachmann’s speech was designed to exalt the ordinary American while challenging them to demand an exceptional country. The challenge, she said, was to not accept a managed decline into being an ordinary nation."

OK, Mrs Bachmann, I can agree with that. Now how do we go about doing so?

Should we revamp and improve our education system, so that more of our citizens can be effective and productive workers in a global economy?

Should we promote the health of our population, so that people in this country live longer, healthier lives?

Should we have a top of the line health care system that provides state of the art access to medical care when our citizens are sick?

Should we continue to keep our country open to all comers, so that foreigners, rich and desperately poor, can come to our country to make a better life for themselves?

Oh, you don't want to do any of that?

What is it, exactly, that makes America exceptional then? Oh right, freedom.

What makes America exceptional is the size of the gap between the rich and the poor, and the lack of socioeconomic mobility relative to the rest of the developed world.
That is what Bachmann is working to increase.