The Washington Post

Bachmann: Voters like me because ‘they feel like they can trust me’

Rep. Michele Bachmann reflected Wednesday on her presidential campaign’s rising fortunes over the past two weeks, crediting it to her unwavering criticism of President Obama over last year’s health-care overhaul and the attention generated by her candidacy.

“People see that there’s a lot of national interest in our race now and we’re doing well,” the Minnesota Republican said in a brief interview. “They feel like now they found their candidate.”

Bachmann, wearing a pink polo shirt and shorts, spoke as she curled up on a red cushion in the back of a charter bus, headed toward her third campaign appearance of the day in South Carolina. She would change back into a yellow dress before disembarking in Greenville, but for the moment she was enjoying a casual respite on a 90-plus-degree day.

Some of her closest advisers were settled nearby on the bus, tapping away on BlackBerrys — among them pollster Ed Goeas, fundraising consultant Guy Short and Bachmann’s husband. Marcus Bachmann has been at his wife’s side at virtually every public event since she formally launched her campaign in Iowa on Monday.

Since the candidate’s arrival Tuesday night in South Carolina, hundreds of people have shown up to hear her speak in public parks and shopping center parking lots. Her remarks have veered from snappy one-liners aimed at Obama to policy positions on energy to family anecdotes about putting together fishing lures.

Another of those one-liners grabbed new attention Wednesday, as she addressed a constant point of public fascination: her relationship with former vice presidential nominee — and potential GOP presidential candidate — Sarah Palin.

The media, Bachmann said at a campaign appearance in Charleston, “want to see two girls come together and have a mud-wrestling fight, and I’m not going to give it to them.”

She added that there was no rivalry between the two women, even though one of Bachmann’s advisers criticized Palin earlier this month.

One thing is a constant in Bachmann’s stump appearances: her biting criticism of the president and liberals. That tone is an important thing that people like about her, she said on the bus.

“They feel like they can trust me because I was very strong when I was in Congress and now the message is, I’m taking that same voice — I’m not changing it — I’m taking it to the White House,” she said. “They want a person who is going to stick to her guns. That’s what people know about me, that I say what I mean and I mean what I say.”

Bachmann has inspired enthusiasm among many conservative women, but she demurred when asked whether she is a feminist. “I consider myself a woman, an accomplished woman,” she said. She noted that many men are energized by her candidacy, and added that there is a fascination with a female presidential hopeful because of its novelty.

Sandhya Somashekhar is the social change reporter for the Washington Post.


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