NASHUA, N.H. — U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota stood before New Hampshire Republicans with a tea bag clutched in her hand Saturday, but her grasp on Revolutionary War geography wasn't quite as tight.
Before headlining a GOP fundraiser, the possible presidential hopeful told a group of students and conservative activists in Manchester, "You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord," according to video posted online by WMUR-TV.
But those first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired in Massachusetts, not New Hampshire. Though Bachmann probably wasn't the first to confuse Concord, N.H., with Concord, Mass., her mistake was striking given her roots in the tea party movement, which takes its name from the dumping of tea into Boston Harbor by angry American colonists in December 1773, 16 months before the Battle of Lexington Green.
Some 30 miles to the north and with tea bag in hand, Bachmann was greeted with applause when she asked the crowd, "How about a United States president that gets what the American people want in 2012?" and later proclaimed, "Are you in for 2012? I'm in!"
She later clarified that she is committed to denying President Barack Obama a second term, not necessarily running herself. That decision will come by early summer, she said, adding that she was no closer to making it Saturday than she was before her first political trip to New Hampshire.
For the state that holds the earliest presidential primary, it was another day, another Minnesota politician with possible White House aspirations. Bachmann's trip overlapped one day with former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's latest visit, offering voters a glimpse of their contrasting styles.
Pawlenty, a former two-term governor, has taken a more tradition path to exploring a White House bid: traveling to key states, spreading money to potential allies through his political action committee and publishing a memoir as he left office. On Friday, he brushed off reporters' attempts to get him to criticize fellow Republican Mitt Romney on health care, and in remarks at a New Hampshire hospital, offered subdued criticism of Obama's national health care law saying "I know the country just had a huge debate about all of this, and my side lost, at least for now. But I hope we can have a continued discussion."
To be sure, Pawlenty faced a roomful of skeptical physicians in one of the most liberal corners of the state, while Bachmann spoke before an enthusiastic, conservative crowd that included tea party groups from New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She called Obama's health care overhaul the "ultimate example of arrogance."
"The real problem is the arrogant elites in Washington, D.C., who think they know how to run your lives far better than you," she said. "You can't be trusted to run your lives, they have to run your lives for you."
She said the bill included $105 billion in spending that Obama and Democrat leaders intentionally hid.
"Did he just forget to mention that, oh, by the way, we've got $105 billion in this bill that we're going to implement socialized medicine? No, this was intentional.
"It needed to be implemented immediately to get its tentacles all through your lives and our government and our institutions so that no matter who was elected in the future, your franchise, your vote would be neutralized. Because they would get their way."
Bachmann, who only recently has begun traveling to early nominating states, rose through the Minnesota ranks on social issues and is a favorite of the tea party in Congress, where she is in her third term. A formidable fundraiser, she's also built a national following through her blunt commentary on cable news shows.
Her speech was briefly interrupted by protesters who had been allowed in the room after portraying themselves as civic-minded college students who wanted to hear Bachmann. Less than half an hour after they were publically welcomed by the event organizers, they marched across the conference room, holding signs and chanting "Michele Bachmann we insist, end the AIDS treatment waiting list."
The protest was an apparent reference to the state- and federally-funded AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Many cash-strapped states have taken steps to cap enrollment, drop patients or institute waiting lists. Bachmann thanked them for the "love," as they were quickly ushered out.
"We're seeing this kind of response because the left knows we're coming and we're serious about 2012," she said.
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