GOP Primary Voters Explore Bachmann's Campaign
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann is trying to set herself apart in the crowded field of Republican rivals for the 2012 presidential nomination. Some candidates appeal to Tea Party budget hawks, others to Christian conservatives. Bachmann wants both. NPR's Don Gonyea spoke with people in the audience at Bachmann's opening rally in Waterloo, Iowa.
DON GONYEA: At that event, she described what might be called the Bachmann coalition.
R: It's made up of peace-through-strength conservatives - and I am one of those. It is made up of fiscal conservatives - and I am one of those. It is made up of social conservatives - and I am one of those.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
R: And it's made up of the Tea Party movement - and I am one of those.
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)
GONYEA: But these groups seem to find common ground in Michele Bachmann. The crowd in Waterloo yesterday numbered a few hundred. Sixty-five-year-old Sharon Adams was there, wearing a Bachmann campaign button. Her top issue...
M: Abortion, abortion. We have to save the lives of our babies.
GONYEA: And Adams says Bachmann has all the right priorities.
M: She just strikes me as somebody that stands above the crowd. She just is ready and willing to devote her life to getting America back on track.
GONYEA: Zach Beschorner also came out to see Bachmann. He's 37. He owns a real estate company. But if you ask him about abortion and same-sex marriage and social issues, he cuts you off.
M: Those aren't my issues. Nope, nope. Actually, I kind of favor same-sex marriage.
GONYEA: Beschorner is a member of the Tea Party. For him, it's all about government spending and the growing financial crisis he says the nation is in. He's firmly in Bachmann's camp.
M: It would be hard to dissuade me. She is exactly what I - we need somebody with common sense and she has it, I can tell.
GONYEA: Campaign events at this point in the contest draw the undecided as well, including lots of people who just want to check the candidate out in person. Thirty-nine-year-old homemaker and mother of two Jennifer Green, of West Des Moines, made the two hour drive to get a look at Bachmann. She says she's interested but that it's early.
M: And who's to say she's the one? She sounds different. She sounds outside the box. I think this is a pretty significant election. I don't want somebody who's part of the machine. I want somebody who's going to take on the machine.
GONYEA: Also in the crowd was 32-year-old Tyler Vincent. He described himself using three negatives - not a Republican, not a conservative, and not Tea Party. He did say he won't be voting for Michele Bachmann, but he also said he could see her doing very well.
M: I've never seen morale lower in the nation, you know. And there are a number of reasons for that. So if she can tap into that and play all those chords right, you know, she could go a long way.
GONYEA: Don Gonyea, NPR News, Waterloo, Iowa.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: This is NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.