1.21.11: Bachmann at ITR event (AUDIO)

Fifty-three-year-old Jon Wood of Adel, Iowa, has come here tonight to see an old high school classmate.  Wood is a graduate of Anoka, Minnesota High School. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was in his class.

“I just remember her from high school being a very decent person, not part of that clique that’s kind of stand-offish, kind of snobby — just an average person,” Wood said during an interview about half an hour before the event was to start.

Wood supported Texas Congressman Ron Paul in the 2008 campaign and describes himself as a “Ron Paul/Tea Party person.”  Wood plans to evaluate Bachmann as a potential presidential candidate tonight. “She talks about fiscal responsibility and that’s really the main thing,” Wood said.  “The core principle is the debt and then let’s bring the troops back.  I support that (bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and other military installations around the world) because that’s what I think is required to get the fiscal house in order.”

Bachmann is tonight’s speaker/main draw at a fundraiser for the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC.  Listen to her 43-minute speech:   Bachmann

What follows is a live blog of the event. The crowd is enjoying the coffee, cocktails, chicken strips and other items on the nibbling/sipping buffet right now, at 10 ’til six on a Friday night.  It appears there are about a dozen tripods and cameras set up on the press riser.  A large contingent of press from the Twin Cities is here.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty spoke last April at an Iowans for Tax Relief event.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared at an ITR fundraiser in October and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has done an event for the group, too.

At 6:15 p.m. Bachmann walked into the room and sat down next to Governor Terry Branstad.  As Ed Failor, Junior — president of Iowans for Tax Relief — started the introduction, a handful of still photographers crouched in front of Bachmann to take her photo.

“There’s been a sea change,” Failor said of the Iowa Legislature.  Several legislators are here — House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer sitting just behind Branstad.  Senators Bill Dix and Kent Sorenson are here, too, and just got a round of applause from the crowd.

As Failor speaks, Branstad and Bachmann are having a conversation in the front row.  “We had a massive sea change at the national level as well,” Failor said.

Failor alluded to Bachmann’s presidential ambitions. “I don’t care what’s next, but I tell you what, I hope you continue to lead the debate,” Failor said to Bachmann.

After thanking the crowd for the reception, she began her remarks by talking about her Iowa roots. “I am an Iowan myself…I’m a seventh generation (Iowan).  My dad called us Iowegians…You may know my other brother,”  Bachmann said, mentioning her brother Gary Amble had been a TV weatherman in Des Moines.

Bachmann called today a “coming home” for her. “Iowans are so nice,” she said.  “…My dad always used to tell me Iowans are the best looking people in the wordl…He’s absolutely correct.”

Bachmann talked about taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills at Valley Park Elementary in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and discussed Iowa’s ranking in education.

“No wonder everybody wants to come Iowa,” Bachmann told the crowd. “…I know there’s been a lot of speculation and I don’t want to keep you in suspense for one more minute…It’s really good to be home.”

Bachmann returned to her biography.  “I know that the values I learned in my life I learned in the Hawkeye State,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann talked about the “pluck” of her ancestors.

“All of us descended from risk takers,” Bachmann said, telling the crowd the story of how her great-great-grandparents left Norway and headed for the US in 1857.

“When I think of these people and the greatness of these ordinary people, they’re the most extraordinary people you could ever imagine,” Bachmann said.  “…I’m in love with these people, absolutely in love with these people and as much as I revere our founders…I think it’s important for us to remember the George Washingtons…and Thomas Jeffersons stood on the shouders of the very immigrants who came here.  It was the ordinary people who lifted them up…who made this an extraordinary nation.”

Bachmann said her ancestors and the ancestors of the people in the room “didn’t come here for the promise of socialized medicine…They came here to build a better life for me and for you…and I am determined to preserve the promise of America,” Bachmann said.  “It is my first belief that America is under attack now…and it’s a problem of our own making…a thundercloud of debt.”

Bachmann said the nation can steer itself away from colliding with that “ice berg” of debt.  “This nation will always exist as a piece of real estate…but the question is: Will we remain the leader in the world?”

Bachmann called the national debt a “crisis” that is “far bigger” than arguments between Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals.

“Will America endure? And I don’t say this melodramatically…Tonight, I think the answer is in grave doubt,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann listed initiatives of the Obama Administration, from health care reform to student loans to cap and trade.

“This is stunning, stunning wht haas occured in just two years time.  Remember who we descend from…because you are the self-correcting power,” she said.  “…And now it’s up to you to make sure we see something remarkable happen in the 2012 election.”

Bachmann said America needs a “bold, strong, constitutional conservative” as its next president, rather than a “managed utopia” where people are told what light bulbs to buy, how much water to flush in the toilet and, which health care policy to buy.

Bachmann, who had earlier quoted Lincoln, talked briefly about the American Civil War. “The struggle of our time is a slavery of a different kind,” Bachmann said, “…a slavery that is a bondage to debt and a bondage to decline.”

Bachmann next paid tribute to the Tea Party movement. “What I spoke to tonight was somber…serious, but also not without a great hope, because my hope is in you, the ordinary Iowa citizens,” she said. “…what we’ve seen in recent months has been nothing short of extraordinary…you’ve summonded something deep inside that we have not seen in modern times.”

Bachman paid homage to Iowans who voted to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices, and she got the biggest burst of applause of the evening.  “This was a shot heard round the world,” Bachmann yelled over the applause, adding judges around the country “feel the hot seat now.”

She concluded this section of the speech about judicial retention with: “You rock here in the state of Iowa!”

Bachmann seems to be winding down. “It is in your hands, Iowans…and I trust you with the challenge.”

Speech over at 7:06 p.m.  There will be a news conference with Bachmann.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


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