Bachmann rallies support in key state of New Hampshire

Rep. Michele Bachmann
Possible 2012 Republican presidential hopeful, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., shakes hands with Mike McCarthy after marching in a Memorial Day parade Monday, May 30, 2011, in North Hampton, N.H.
AP Photo/Jim Cole

Speaking Memorial Day afternoon before a joint Republican Party county picnic in Dover, N.H., Rep. Michele Bachmann did not tear into President Obama. Nor did she employ harsh rhetoric to make the case for reduced government spending or the repeal of the Democratic-led health care overhaul.

Instead, Bachmann spent most of her time thanking veterans and, at one point, asked them to stand and be recognized.

"You're service means so much to our country and so much to each one of us that even this applause is but a faint shadow of what we owe you, a debt that we can never fully repay to you," Bachmann said.

Bachmann also spoke at length about the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, reading excerpts line by line and saying they are as meaningful today as they were when the founding fathers wrote them.

A few hundred people sat at long banquet tables adorned with American flag decorations listening to Bachmann. Supporters flocked to the Congresswoman from the time she entered the room until she was gone.

Ann Kolifrath of New Bedford, N.H. said she's ready and waiting to help Bachmann win in New Hampshire.

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"I think she's wonderful because she speaks up for us and she doesn't mind saying what she feels," Kolifrath said. "She's got the courage. She's what we need."

Michele Bachmann speaks in New Hampshire
Possible 2012 presidential hopeful, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. ,speaks during a Republican party picnic Monday, May 30, 2011 in Dover, N.H.
AP Photo/Jim Cole

In addition to a few public events, Bachmann is holding some private invitation-only meetings with New Hampshire Republicans.

Jerry DeLemus heads the Granite State Patriots Liberty Political Action Committee, which he said will eventually endorse one or more candidates.

DeLemus was at a private meeting with Bachmann Sunday night in Dover and was also at the public gathering in town this afternoon. He's impressed, but not ready to endorse Bachmann.

"I think she's a great fit for New Hampshire and I'll be surprised if we don't see a lot of the liberty groups jump behind her if, in fact she decides to announce," DeLemus said.

DeLemus said he's quite convinced Bachmann will end up running. DeLemus said for Republicans to be successful against President Barack Obama and in the White House, they need an aggressive candidate.

"We need a fighter, and the reality is our government's been going the wrong way and it's been going hard and fast in that direction," he said. "We need somebody who's going to push just as hard for the correct direction that this country needs to follow, and Bachmann will do that."

Since telling reporters last week that she will announce whether she'll run for president sometime next month from Waterloo, Iowa, there has been a lot of talk about Bachmann being well positioned in the state. In addition to being born there, political insiders say Bachmann's history as a home school mom could sell well there.

After the event in Dover, Bachmann told MPR News that Republicans in New Hampshire are concerned about the same things that are troubling Republicans in Iowa. She also said she thinks she's a good fit for New Hampshire too.

"People in New Hampshire resonate with my strong fiscal conservative background and the fact they love it that I'm a fighter, absolute champion of our Constitution and The Declaration of Independence our Bill of Rights," Bachmann said. "We have that in sync and as one, and so I think there's a lot of compatibility in New Hampshire."

In an interview with MPR News, New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball said Republicans in his state are concerned about government spending and the erosion of personal liberties. They want a return to constitutional values, he said.

Kimball also said they're eager for someone who will passionately represent their views on the campaign trail. He said the candidates would do well to consider the energy Donald Trump briefly brought to the race.

"People are thirsting for that fire in the belly, taking the gloves off showing that they're ready to fight for them," Kimball said. "

Kimball's said his advice to any and all of the candidates who are going to enter the 2012 race, or have already entered the race, is that you really do have to be passionate.

Bachmann could have a chance to buck the GOP establishment and show her fighter skills before a national audience. In a couple of weeks, 2012 Republican candidates meet for a debate in Manchester, N.H. that will be televised on CNN.

One staffer told reporters that she's going to be at that debate. Bachmann said an announcement about who will be participating soon will be announced by debate sponsors.