WASHINGTON – With her presidential campaign in trouble, Michele Bachmann tried to win the hearts and minds of religious conservative voters at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC Friday night.
Once again taking aim at the campaign of GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney, Bachmann said Republicans will win the White House in 2012 and have a duty to nominate the most conservative candidate in the race.
“Don’t listen to these people who every four years tell you we have to select a moderate from our party and we have to settle for the sake of winning,” Bachmann said. “Let’s finally have one of us in the White House.”
In a longer than usual 45 minute address, Bachmann promised to abolish the federal Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. She also reiterated her call to repeal last year’s healthcare overhaul bill and promised the same fate to the Dodd-Frank financial sector overhaul as well.
Faced with flagging poll numbers, unforced mistakes, reports of poor fundraising and the move of several key staff members from Bachmann’s presidential campaign back to congressional office, Bachmann’s bid to religious conservative voters represents her last, best hope to stay relevant in the GOP presidential race.
In a sign of the minor missteps plaguing her, Bachmann’s campaign emailed out a press release about the congresswoman’s speech 45 minutes before the address, telling reporters that Bachmann spoke “to a standing room-only crowd.” In fact, the hotel ballroom where Bachmann spoke was never filled to capacity and rows of empty seats were visible.
But in a move that brought the crowd to its feet, Bachmann mentioned the bill she introduced in CongressThursday that would require abortion clinics to show expecting mothers ultrasound images and fetal sounds before going through with an abortion.
That message resonated with Ina Fay Nichols, a grandmother from Fairfax, Virginia, who watched Bachmann speak. But Nichols said that Bachmann’s moment may have passed.
“I think she’s qualified from day one,” Nichols said. “But the thing about it is, what conservatives are looking at right now is someone who can win. That is what I think the problem is.”
Bachmann will campaign in New Hampshire, where’s she’s been absent for months, on Sunday through Tuesday ahead of another GOP presidential debate in the Granite State.