Bachmann tells CPAC: It’s time for a true conservative president

Rep. Michele Bachmann addressed the 38th annual CPAC meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington on Thursday.
REUTERS/Larry Downing
Rep. Michele Bachmann addressed the 38th annual CPAC meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington on Thursday.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Michele Bachmann stood today in front of the largest annual conference of conservative activists in America and offered a diagnosis.

The problem, she said, is President Obama’s leadership in Washington, large deficits and the rising national debt that, she said, would top $20 trillion in six years if current spending trends continue.

Her prescription: To replace Barack Obama in the White House in 2012 with a true conservative. She didn’t say who with.

Bachmann opened the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in front of more than a thousand conservative activists and bloggers in the cavernous auditorium of the swanky Marriott Wardman Park. This was Bachmann’s base. It was a crowd that laughed at her jokes, gave standing ovations to her applause lines and literally hissed when she spoke the word “ObamaCare.”

As she has in countless speeches before, Bachmann railed against government spending. She noted a rising national debt, called for action (she opposes raising the debt ceiling and has proposed more than $400 billion in immediate spending cuts) and warned college students in the room that they could pay 70 to 75 percent of their income in taxes during their peak earning years if something doesn’t change.

The biggest outrage, she said, is that government “is intentionally consuming the future labors of Americans who aren’t even born.”

“Your future is personally tied into this next election, it’s that important,” Bachmann said. “This isn’t just something that someone’s trying to conjure up to scare you, this is your future.”

Defining success
Yet it’s hard to specifically gauge how Bachmann did with the crowd, if for no reason other than it’s unclear what she aimed to accomplish.

No doubt the crowd here loved her. She began and ended with standing ovations and was interrupted several times by applause. An hour after she spoke, the simple picture of her in a video montage brought a smattering of cheers.

CPAC as a conference points toward its presidential straw poll, which will be released Saturday afternoon. Last year, Bachmann took her name out of it. This year, she’s keeping her name in.

She’ll face off with a field of 15 (including Tim Pawlenty), but starts at a disadvantage against campaigns that literally paid attendees’ registrations in hopes that they’ll pack the poll accordingly. It’s a move that works for some campaigns, I guess, but given that most haven’t organized at all yet it’s hard to say how helpful the poll is in gauging support. Interesting? Yeah, but accurate? Probably not as much.

Far more telling for Bachmann will be her support at a reception here this afternoon. She invited the entire conference (11,000 or so) to come for an open bar (caveat: one drink apiece) on her tab.

Bachmann said she wanted to meet everyone, shake their hand and tell them thanks for all their hard work. Far more important than a speech is that one-on-one connection.

Today, she’ll thank them. In a few months’ time, she may ask them to work for her. Later, maybe, she’ll ask for their votes.

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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 02/10/2011 - 11:19 am.

    Michelle, I’m gonna require a LOT more than 1 drink!

  2. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 02/10/2011 - 12:36 pm.

    Is MinnPost going to bother fact-checking any of the above statements and figures, or are you just passing them along for Michele? It would be more useful for readers if you fact-checked right alongside the original statements rather than waiting a few days. That’s how reporters used to do it.

    Bachmann’s proposed $400 billion in immedioate cuts is already bogus–she took cutting veterans benefits off the table after she drew the wrath of virtually every veterans group in the country.

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/10/2011 - 02:07 pm.

    Question is whether the current Republican base (which loves her) is representative of Republican voters, who may prefer someone less incendiary (Pawlenty hopes so).

  4. Submitted by Cecil North on 02/10/2011 - 03:08 pm.

    Well I’m still confused. Is a “true conservative”:

    One who wants to limit interference of “big government” in our personal lives and choices, or the one who wants to take away reproductive choices from women and tell people who they can and can’t marry?

    One who wants to strictly enforce the Constitution, or the one who wants to implement “Christian” values through laws, despite the 1st Amendment?

    One who advocates states’ rights under the 10th Amendment, or the one against states’ rights to regulate firearms under the 2nd Amendment?

    One who champions fiscal responsibility, or the one who cuts taxes for the rich in the face of massive deficits?

    Is a “true conservative” truly just schizophrenic?

  5. Submitted by Tom Richards, MASSMpderate on 02/10/2011 - 04:34 pm.

    CPAC folks are being misinformed by cheerleaders.I’ve been a Republican for over 50 years. Seemingly good intentions since Eisenhower have caused great harm to our economy and society, causing great anger. The root cause of our economic and political malaise is the ruination of our progressive income tax system since Eisenhower (92% on high incomes an a well running economy and growing middle class), which resulted on rip-off types running their enterprises into the ground for maximum short term gains and bonuses, exporting jobs of the middle class (customers) in the process. Why in the world does CPAC support continuing the too low tax on high incomes? Why does CPAC rally to support the “eliminate the “death tax’ ” cheer, wanted by the very rich to keep all of their gains? Why does CPAC support the military/industrial complex, warned about by Eisenhower, in continuing to dump money and young people overseas supporting wars and oppressive regimes?
    How ca CPAC stomach the chants and cheers of Bachman and Palin? I hope that CPAC isn’t the future of y Republican Party!

  6. Submitted by David Greene on 02/10/2011 - 05:41 pm.

    @Tom Richards,

    No, CPAC isn’t the future of the Republican Party. It is the PRESENT of the Republican party. It IS the Republican party so long as no one steps up to stop the madness.

  7. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/10/2011 - 06:10 pm.

    Tom (#6) —

    “I hope that CPAC isn’t the future of the Republican Party.”

    That could be the least bad future to befall America compared to what is likely to happen if the Right gets it way all the time.

    We should all hope that the Right Wing-nut coalition or party or whatever doesn’t lead us all the way to the form of economic fascism called corporatism, by which time the “interests” of government and big business are as one. And to heck with the middle and working classes, who will exist just to serve the corporate and governmental elite.

    The Republican Party and the Supreme Court are solidly in big business’s corner, and the president has made friendly overtures to it, apparently in the hope that it and the Administration can reach some kind of happy middle-of-the-road.

  8. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/10/2011 - 09:14 pm.

    Of course CPAC is the future of the Republican Party, and they’ve got the Koch brothers-funded Tea Party movement, weasel news and Rush Limbaugh behind them to make sure.

    If those who were once Republicans but now find that their party is filled with and being run by ranting, “know nothing” but absolutely determined to shout down anyone who disagrees with that nothingness types who are guided by, controlled by, and funded by the most selfish and self-serving of the fabulously wealthy…

    I suspect it’s too late to take back your own party. You’ll have to start a third to represent your views which used to represent and very useful and helpful perspective which, although it ran counter to and in competition with the Democratic perspective, arose out of actual patriotism, love for America, and concern for your fellow citizens (none of which members of the current Republican Party dares demonstrate lest they be attacked as RINOs).

  9. Submitted by Tom Miller on 02/11/2011 - 06:46 am.

    On the occassion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, President Reagan was given credit on NPR recently for the most important social change in America: turning populism from anti-corporation to anti-government. Rep. Bachmann and other ultra-conservatives live this message on steroids.

    The root of American power is the fact that every citizen is part of the government. If our government is the enemy, then Americans have turned against themselves in a way that, were the diagnosis made on an individual, indicates a dangerous mental health problem.

    Should government shrink to the point of collapse, as championed by Bachmann and the Tea Party, the only institutions capable of filling the void are wealthy individuals and corporations. The perverse reverse of populism championed by Reagan, Bachmann, Tea Partiers and Citizens United will be complete: government will be the enemy.

  10. Submitted by Cecil North on 02/11/2011 - 07:12 am.


    I suspect that you’re like my dad: a life-long Republican until the party slipped its moorings and became (under Rove’s tutelage) beholden to the radical right. One term of Bush was enough for my father. Now he votes Democratic. My father worked hard his whole life, and was a very successful entrepreneur and business man. You’d think he’s the kind of person the Republican party would appeal to. No longer.

    Take back your party, Tom. I grew up respectfully disagreeing with my dad’s politics, but our differences were always one of degrees and means to a common end. Our country needs the real Republican party back again.

  11. Submitted by Alan Davis on 02/11/2011 - 07:47 am.

    It’s truly wonderful to see this small potatoes woman pontificate incoherently to a bunch of smug souls whose world view stopped growing before they became adults.

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