Move over Sarah Palin. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is stealing your thunder. (And I don’t mean Rolling Thunder.)
At this weekend’s Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, Bachmann brought the house down. In a crowd of devoted religious conservatives, Bachmann hit all the right buttons and had the crowd screaming, clapping and on their feet.
While Palin was on her “private” vacation bus tour (in fact, her 10 year old Piper said to a reporter, “Thanks for ruining our vacation.”) Bachmann was looking and talking like a serious candidate for the presidency.
Every Republican presidential hopeful and most Republican political leaders showed up at the conference, organized by Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition.
Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Bachmann addressed the gathering. Newt Gingrich sent a video as he was on vacation. House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor were there. Even The Donald couldn’t resist a cameo appearance.
Palin, who was invited, was the only no-show.
Big mistake, Sarah. You should have been there. You just kissed off your base.
Now I know that Palin and Bachmann say they are friends. They have to. And they say they don’t see any competition from each other. But if Palin really is considering a run she is going to be in for a shock, because from the point of view of the very religious Christian right, Bachmann beats Palin in every category:
Family values? Both have large biological families, but Bachmann has also 23 foster children.
Right to life? Palin is anti-abortion and calls it murder. Yet she was lauded for her honesty in admitting she actually considered the procedure when she was pregnant with her last child, a Down’s Syndrome baby. Bachmann went her one better, she attacked Planned Parenthood for being a “corrupt organization.” She accused the group of “trafficking in underage girls and helping them get abortions,” a likely reference to a controversial undercover video produced by anti-abortion activists. Given the nature of the debates over funding for Planned Parenthood, Bachmann’s claim is sure to ignite the base.
Gay marriage? Palin opposes gay marriage, but Bachmann actually led the movement in Minnesota to introduce a constitutional amendment recognizing marriage as only between man and woman. The issue, she says, will be on the ballot in 2012. “I was at the tip of the spear on that effort,” she said at the conference.
Middle East politics? Palin believes we should stand up for Israel but Bachmann is fiery on the subject. Obama’s position on Israel is “shocking,” she says. “America must stand with Israel.” She said to clamorous applause. “I STAND WITH ISRAEL!”
Health reform? Of course Palin is against what both call Obamacare, but Bachmann was formidable: “We will repeal Obamacare,” she said to a standing ovation. It will be done. IT WILL NOT STAND.”
Of course, both have made famous gaffes in their knowledge of American history. But Bachmann admitted her mistake in placing the battles of Lexington and Concord in New Hampshire and joked about it afterward. Palin not only misspoke when she described Paul Revere’s bell-ringing, shot-firing ride to warn the British, but then refused to admit the mistake when asked about it on Fox News Sunday.
So which one is the most presidential? Bachmann. Hands down.
She’s serious. She is determined. She is passionate. She is focused. She doesn’t appear to be doing this simply to get attention but because she cares deeply about the issues (and issues that appeal to the Tea Party coalition). She is a sitting congresswoman. She is well educated. She doesn’t trot out her family at every point, almost as props. She is respectful of other politicians, even those she vehemently disagrees with. She is not smirky and snarky. She is not coy or flirtatious. Life for her is not a photo op. It’s a policy op.
Most importantly, the Christian right is going to have a big say in who gets the nomination. Whoever gets it will have had to impress them that they are believers and that that is their ultimate motivation for running.
Palin invokes God, but it Bachmann who has said she has had a calling.
Certainly she was called to attend the Faith and Freedom Conference, which any Republican who is seriously considering a run should have had.
She went even further, concluding her rousing speech with an equally rousing prayer. “Father God,” she began and thanked the Lord for his encouragement. She even prayed for the press, or as Palin would call them, “the lame-stream media.”
She asked for forgiveness for our sins, asked God to bless us and committed the conference to “you in your Holy Son’s name. “
She concluded with, “This is about the very life and future of our nation.”
Michele Bachmann is a scary prospect for the left, secularists, and for many moderates. And she should be for the other Republican candidates as well.
But nobody should be as scared as Sarah Palin.
Sally Quinn | Jun 7, 2011 4:51 PM