Is the 6th Congressional District a hotbed of girl power? The match-up in that district has revealed a depth of activism by women for their candidates that, while not surprising for DFLer Tarryl Clark, is equally fervent for GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Embedded in the national attention Bachmann gets for her conservative profile is a wide and deep well of female support.
Bachmann has been endorsed by Smart Girl Politics, a national grassroots conservative women’s organization. Bachmann was one of the women in the 2010 “Great American Conservative Women” calendar issued by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, a think tank geared toward female conservatives. Bachmann and Clark are even in their support among women, according to the most recent Survey USA poll.
Bachmann’s most committed women supporters, those who volunteer on her campaign for reelection, describe her in terms of a much-loved, highly respected best friend. Think Carrie Bradshaw and crew entering conservative politics.
For example, Chris Addington, a nurse from Baytown Township, relocated to live in Bachmann’s district. “She’s the whole package,” Addington says. “She’s genuine, passionate, intelligent and informed.”
Supporters like Addington and Sharon Dierberger of Lake Elmo see Bachmann as a politician with a unique combination of guts and savvy, God-fearing yet fearless in defense of her principles.
“She knows we need to have a government that is powerful enough to prevent anarchy but restricted enough to prevent tyranny,” said Dierberger. “Slowly what we have valued is disappearing.”
Feminists, of course, can disrespectfully disagree. One writer at Salon.com described Bachmann as “a seemingly bottomless source of outrageous wingnuttery.” To the claims, true and false, that Bachmann has a knack for the absurd, Addington defends but doesn’t unequivocally deny: “I’ve heard numerous people I’ve met on the campaign say they don’t agree eye to eye with her. They’ve had little ‘coming to Jesus’ talks with her. She’s been very receptive. She is very willing to admit she’s made mistakes.”
It doesn’t matter to those supporters that Bachmann’s stated positions on so-called women’s issues are few. They see her zeal for patriotism, the Constitution and smaller government as women’s issues. While reluctant to characterize Bachmann as having a special appeal to women, campaign manager Gina Countryman says that Bachmann’s front-burner issue of jobs and the economy resonates with women voters: “Women’s issues are making sure the economy doesn’t throw their children’s future down the drain. Economic issues are women’s issues.”
Dierberger put it this way: “Finally there is this awesome woman who talks and thinks like we think.”
Dierberger’s daughter, 17-year-old Kaitlyn, is also a Bachmann volunteer who topped off that observation: “She can bake cookies and still lead the country.”