Local police and Mall of America security kept close watch Friday on anti-Wall Street protesters who bought copies of Republican Michele Bachmann's memoir so they could approach the hometown presidential candidate during a book signing.
No arrests or major disruptions were reported during the roughly two hours Bachmann was signing her "Core of Conviction" autobiography in a sequestered area of the megamall. At least a dozen members from the Minnesota offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement paid the $23.13 for the book so they could meet the congresswoman face to face.
One of them, Ben Painter, said he asked Bachmann if she would seek to reverse the ability of corporations to influence political campaigns with donations.
"I don't think she answered my question so I did not have my book signed because I was not comfortable with her answer," Painter said.
Bachmann foes and fans alike were subject to bag searches and pat-downs before entering. Reporters were removed from the room by the time the protesters came through.
Several uniformed and plain-clothed officers prevented the protesters from bringing in signs and let them into the room one at a time.
Bachmann took their appearance in stride.
"She was happy that they bought her book and enjoyed the conversations she had with them," said Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart.
A clerk ringing up book sales outside the signing said one person asked for a refund on his unsigned book but was directed to a bookstore four floors down.
From the mall, Bachmann planned to hop her decked-out bus to Iowa for more campaigning.
In a brief news conference, Bachmann discounted suggestions that her White House bid was flagging. She said the race remains too volatile to count any GOP candidate out and stressed her victory in the summer Iowa GOP straw poll.
"The race has been like the stock market, it goes up and it goes down. It is wide open," Bachmann said. "We think there's a real shot at victory."
Bachmann's campaign manager Keith Nahigian said the campaign is beginning to scope out TV ad time in Iowa, the first caucus state. He said he plans to purchase time closest to the Jan. 3 caucus and work backward into December as campaign money comes in.
Some Bachmann's supporters predicted her comeback in the race, while others acknowledged it will be tough for her to win the nomination.
Jill Allison of Chaska gave Bachmann a Minnesota Twins jersey and gave the candidate a pep talk, telling her "it's not over til it's over."
But even Allison was measured in her assessment. "Honestly, with the establishment, the organizing on the left and the media stacked against her, she's got an uphill climb," Allison said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)