Mixing caffeine and campaigning in Council Bluffs, Iowa

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — A week before the Iowa caucuses, Rep. Michele Bachmann is back in the state.

Her first stop on this chilly Tuesday morning was Scooter’s Coffeehouse in Council Bluffs for a skinny white chocolate peppermint mocha.

Bachmann wasn’t just there to get her caffeine fix, though. She was shaking hands and trying to win votes.

“One week from today, Iowans will send a signal to Barack Obama that they are now going to see the end of his liberal policies,” she said during a press conference outside the tiny coffee shop. “We need a candidate for president who will show the distinct differences that there are like Ronald Reagan did with Jimmy Carter did in 1980.”

It’s a message the Bachmann hasn’t wavered from since the early days of her campaign. Of all the GOP candidates in the race, she argues she’s the most consistently conservative on a range of issues.

Take changes to the nation’s health care system, Bachmann said. While Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, two of Bachmann’s chief rivals here in Iowa, previously supported a mandate that all people have health insurance, Bachmann hasn’t.

“That’s why I’ve been calling them Newt Romney,” Bachmann said. “Neither of them is conservative.”

Still, a few of the voters who showed up to meet Bachmann aren’t sold on her as a candidate.

“I have a top three,” said Naomi Leinen, who is the Republican co-chair for Pottawattamie County.

Leinen likes what Bachmann has to say on everyone paying some amount in income taxes, but Rick Santorum’s stance on family issues and Gingrich’s intellect also appeal to her.

Ultimately, Leinen says she’s going to vote for the candidate who is the most electable, and she isn’t sure Bachmann is that person.

Still, Bachmann sounded confident while autographing a picture of the White House for two children who came to the event.

“Are you going to come and see me when I’m there,” she asked the kids. “Our first party is going to be the Iowa party.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry also started the day in Council Bluffs, with a brief speech at another cafe.