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Two Republican stars -- Palin and Bachmann -- align for first time

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2010; A04

MINNEAPOLIS -- Two of the country's most popular Republicans, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, teamed up Wednesday for a rollicking campaign rally that targeted President Obama as weak on national security and doomed to a single term.

Bachmann, seeking a third term in the House, never mentioned her Democratic opponents. Instead, she delighted the crowd with mocking references to terrorism suspects being read Miranda rights and sharp criticism of the president for limiting when the United States can use nuclear weapons.

"Two years from now, Obama will be a one-term president," Bachmann said, "because we are going to elect the boldest, strongest, most courageous, rock-ribbed, constitutional conservative president this country has ever seen."

Several thousand people showed up to see Bachmann and Palin, both famous for their fiery populism and ability to rile opponents. Darlings of "tea party" conservatives, the women were appearing together for the first time, and they welcomed the crowd's embrace. Palin headlined a fundraiser for Bachmann later in the day.

The rally was a lively assault on Democrats in Congress and the White House. The emcee, talk radio host Chris Baker, drew cheers and laughter when he said the party in power in Washington is a "lying, thieving . . . bunch of commies."

"I have just a question for you: Have you had enough?" said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), a presidential aspirant. He listed problems and added: "We have national leaders who are too small to do anything about it."

When Palin's turn came, she called Bachmann "inspiring," and she delivered a familiar indictment of Obama and other Democratic leaders. She praised Bachmann and other Republican women in Congress, whom she likened to the pink elephant in one 2008 GOP campaign button.

"Someone had better tell Washington that that pink elephant is on the move, and Michele is leading the stampede," Palin said.

She called the health-care law signed by Obama "a new entitlement program that breaks the bank and really violates the U.S. Constitution."

Taking the opposite tack from the White House, which believes that the law will become more popular as Americans learn more about it, Palin said that the more people learn, "the more ticked off you're going to be."

Making fun of Democrats who have called Republicans "the party of no," Palin said: "Michele doesn't tell them no. She tells them h-e-l-l no."

Many in the audience wore buttons with side-by-side images of Palin and Bachmann. One man's a sweatshirt had an image of Mount Rushmore and the words "Right Wing Extremist: Guess I'm in Good Company."

Betty Soban, an admiring constituent of Bachmann's, said: "My family left Germany because of Hitler and socialized medicine. I see it happening here." Important to her, she said, are "freedom of ownership. Freedom of our guns. Freedom of having babies."

Soban's sweatshirt read "Liberty and Freedom," and she sported a button that said: "Change? I'd like mine back."

Heading into a competitive contest this fall, Bachmann had raised more than $1.5 million before the scheduled $10,000-a-plate fundraiser with Palin. (The first $4,800 of each contribution will go to her campaign, and the rest to the state GOP.) Only four House Republicans have raised more.

One of Bachmann's Democratic opponents, State Sen. Tarryl Clark, has raised more than $1 million, a significant total for a challenger this early in the election cycle.

But Bachmann sounds determined. She reminded another audience recently of her 2008 comment that Obama might have "anti-American views," declaring, "I said I had very serious concerns that Barack Obama had anti-American views, and now I look like Nostradamus."

Before Wednesday's event, congressional Democrats e-mailed a dismissive message to supporters, saying "the outrageous lies" of Palin and Bachmann "have become the stuff of legend."

Staff writer Perry Bacon Jr. in Washington contributed to this report.

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