Rep. Michelle Bachmann says she got into politics because she was concerned about the federal government's interference with local schools. In 2000, she defeated a longtime incumbent in the Republican primary and was elected to the Minnesota Senate, representing the Stillwater area.
Her path led to Congress, a failed presidential run and then her announcement on Wednesday that she would not seek a fifth term in the 6th Congressional district.
To hear her comments in some of those moments, click on the audio link at right.
In 2004, as a state senator, she led the effort that eventually put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in Minnesota which would have prohibited same-sex marriage. That question eventually went to the voters in 2012 and lost.
"This is the No. 1 issue of the day. This is what everyone is talking about. And the people of the state of Minnesota are understanding that we will have gay marriage in Minnesota in 2004 unless we put this issue on the ballot."
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"I REALLY HATE TAXES"
In 2006, Bachmann ran for Congress in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District.
"We want the voters to know I'm a state senator, I'm a federal tax lawyer. My husband runs our business; we employ 30 people in the 6th District. We have five children, 23 foster children. I really hate taxes and I want to lower them, and that's what I want the people to know."
In Congress she gained a reputation for her provocative, often inaccurate or unsubstantiated accusations. In 2008, she said this on national television about then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama.
"I think the people that Barack Obama has been associating with are anti-American, by and large, the people who are radical leftists. That's the real question about Barack Obama."
"GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE FAMILY"
That statement generated a surge in donations to her opponent, but she still won re-election, and Bachmann's popularity within her own party continued to grow. She was invited to speak at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
"We must never forget what government is not. Government is not a philanthropic organization. Government is not the family. And government certainly is not the church."
In 2010, she founded the House Tea Party Caucus and explained its mission in an interview on Fox News.
"What we've been hearing for months and months are voices of the American people saying no one in Washington is listening to me. That's what this effort is all about: To allow real people to be able to come into Washington and, in a private way, speak directly to members of Congress."
Bachmann became a relentless critic of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, characterizing it as another government intrusion in people's lives. It played a role in her decision to run for the White House in June of 2011. She returned to her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa, to formally announce her intention to seek the Republican presidential nomination.
"I want my candidacy for the presidency of the United States to stand for a moment when we the people stand once again for the independence from a government that has gotten too big, and spends too much and has taken away too much of our liberties."
In August of 2011, Bachmann won the Iowa Straw poll, but that was the high point of her Presidential campaign. In a September debate, she referred to the HPV vaccine as a "government injection" and the following morning said this on the Today Show.
"I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa Florida after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter."
Bachmann's state campaign chair in Iowa switched his allegiance to Ron Paul right before the Iowa caucuses in 2011. Bachmann finished in sixth place and dropped out of the presidential race the next day. In the fall, she narrowly defeated Democrat Jim Graves to retain her seat in Congress.
Lately she has been defending herself against charges that her presidential campaign made improper expenditures and stole an e-mail list. In her video statement yesterday announcing that she would not run for reelection, Bachmann summed up her approach to politics.
"And even when it means resisting the policy positions of many in my own political party, I've always strived to be first and foremost a public servant, and do what is best for the people, and never acquiesce to being a political servant. There's a difference."