Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann formally entered the 2012 GOP nomination battle Monday morning, kicking off her presidential campaign from her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa.
Bachmann talked about her Iowa roots and called for the return of the American dream. She pledged to bring the voice of regular Americans to the White House if she makes it that far.
"I want my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States to stand for a moment when we the people stand, once again, for independence from a government that has gotten too big and spends too much and has taken away too much of our liberties," Bachmann said.
A couple of hundred people cheered on Bachmann, some of them family and invited guests; others supporters looking on from the periphery.
She called for reduced federal government spending.
"Our problems, quite frankly, are today," she said. "Our problems are not tomorrow. We can't continue to rack up debt and put it on the backs of the next generation. We can't afford the unconstitutional healthcare law that will cost us too much and deliver so little."
After speaking for about 20 minutes Bachmann shook hands and posed for pictures. Her audience seemed thrilled with her speech and candidacy.
Floyd Johnson, 60, of Waterloo was overcome with emotion, holding back tears as he talked about Bachmann.
"She's a straight talker. She's one of us," he said. "I just love what she's saying. It means so much to me. I'm so touched. It just seems we've been so disappointed for so many years and lied to and cheated and I'd like to think the system is straight and fair and that we'd have a chance to get a real American in there."
Janet Thompson of Cedar Falls said she will be at her local GOP caucus next year and she's seriously looking at supporting Bachmann.
"She's very passionate about her country," Thompson said. "I believe that she's very honest, very straight forward. I do believe that she is in public service because she is passionate not for all the glory and for huge political reasons."
A Des Moines Register poll of likely Republican caucus-goers released over the weekend showed Bachmann and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading the pack of candidates in a statistical tie. The poll showed former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in sixth place.
Many political analysts say Bachmann's favorite-daughter status in Iowa could help her in the state.
Carleton College political science professor Steven Schier said there's another reason a candidate like Bachmann stands to do well in Iowa.
"Bachmann will do better in caucus states where turnout is low and people are more ideologically motivated," Schier said.
During a morning appearance on NBC's Today Show, Pawlenty said there was plenty of time for him to "do well in Iowa," and that early polls are often not accurate projections of who will win there.
Asked if he thought Bachmann was "too far out of the mainstream to be president," Pawlenty said he thought he is the only candidate who can appeal to economic and social conservatives as well as libertarians.
Pawlenty marked Bachmann's formal announcement day by putting out a new Iowa radio ad and a list of several Iowa lawmakers who are endorsing his presidential campaign.
The Minnesota Democratic Party put out a news release saying Bachmann doesn't have a single success to point to during her time in Congress and would have nothing to offer Americans as president.
After her speech in Waterloo, Bachmann headed to New Hampshire on a private campaign jet with a small contingent of reporters. Her announcement tour will also take her to the early primary state of South Carolina.