WASHINGTON — Looking to stand out from a crowded Republican presidential field that polling shows has largely left her in their dust, Michele Bachmann told a small audience this morning that she has the conservative conviction necessary to take on Barack Obama in next fall’s election.
Bachmann’s speech to a crowd of about 40 people from the Family Research Council was policy-heavy and meant to detail her life as a conservative warrior. She focused intently on detailing why Obama’s policies have grown the size of government to what she calls unsustainable levels, and she hit her Republican allies for not being true conservatives.
She pointedly called some Republicans “frugal socialists” for supporting government-run health care programs (like the one Mitt Romney supported while governor of Massachusetts, though she didn’t expressly say he was the target of her remark).
“Sadly far too many Republicans aspire to be frugal socialists. The reason President Obama and some Republicans can get behind socialized medicine is because they share the same core political philosophy about the purpose of government,” she said. “We cannot preserve liberty for ourselves and our posterity if the choice in next November is between a frugal socialist and an out-of-control socialist.”
She targeted Herman Cain’s wavering pro-life position, saying, “Some Republican candidates seem confused about what it means to be pro-life … Our candidate has to do more than just check the box of being pro-life … I’ll never be confused about that issue and you won’t find YouTube videos of me saying anything else.“
In a weekend radio interview, Bachmann targeted Cain as a flip-flopper on issues important to the Republican electorate. On Monday, she said she would be trustworthy to stay true to her word.
“There will be no policy surprises from me. I do know who I am and I will never deviate from the principles I have fought for all my life,” she said. “I am that candidate that you can trust in office.”
That was Bachmann’s main point in her speech: She has the “core of conviction” required to be the conservative nominee the Republican Party needs to take on President Obama in 364 days. She repeated that phrase — which happens to be the title of her upcoming autobiography — at least six times over the course of her 25-minute speech.
When Bachmann turned the attention to Obama, it was standard campaign fare. She blamed him for dramatically extending the size of government so much that the United States could go down a path of economic ruin similar to the one plaguing Europe. She detailed her opposition to large government programs, from the Obama health care law to the Department of Education, saying the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to get involved in those areas.
In one of her more dramatic moments, she said the 2012 election would be the one in which voters would decide “whether the United States as a nation will survive.”
“Principles should be immutable. They should be the core of one’s conviction,” Bachmann said. “President Obama believes in cultivating power onto himself and centralizing power onto himself. He is willing to engage in massive redistribution of wealth and the politics of Occupy Wall Street envy to achieve this purpose.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry