In a classic "rally the base" speech for the opening of the Conservative Political Action Conference
in Washington, Rep. Michele Bachmann
(R-Minn.) embraced the role of tea party cheerleader to prepare the 11,000 loyalists listening for their march to the 2012 elections.
Armed with statistics about conservative victories in 2010 and America's national debt, she fulfilled the obligation of any good opening keynote speaker by firing up the attendees and stoking their enthusiasm for the big political "ask" at the end.
After spoofing her own camera malfunction moment
in her response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Bachmann got to work, whipping the conservative crowd into a frenzy with a speech focused on the expected talking points.
Like all good conservative whip-the-troops-into-a-frenzy speeches, Bachmann invoked the red meat buzz words and phrases that have become part of the conservative vocabulary -- Obamacare, socialism, cap and trade, and endless liberal taxation.
There was the obligatory bashing of the Democratic leadership, the call for taking back the Senate
and the White House, and an invoking of the image that those at the conference are a conservative family that must band together for their "triple crown" of common goals -- fiscal conservatism, national security and socially conservative values.
One of the most interesting aspects of her speech, though, was what Bachmann had to say about precisely who
she wanted to see win the Senate in 2012. She was very clear that in her book a Republican victory won't be enough -- only a takeover led by conservatives would be sufficient to move the country forward in the image that CPAC-ers want.
It was clear that Bachmann was still struggling with her some of her facts
. She spent several minutes discussing the national debt, explaining the difference between billions and trillions, claiming that since 2006 it has been the Democratic Congress that was at fault for the ballooning of the deficit. She conveniently left out of her remarks that one of the biggest contributors to the deficit were the major tax cuts in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, signed by George W. Bush.
Bachmann made sure to sprinkle a certain amount of humor into her speech for the younger conservatives. In a nod to the college-age crowd present, she invited all 11,000 attendees for drinks on her (one drink limit, please!) and channeled her inner Wayne Campbell
by telling them they should "party hearty." And sounding the alarm about the growing U.S. debt to China, she reminded her audience that China's president is named Hu, and then saying to President Obama, "Hu's your daddy."
In an emotional moment, Bachmann told the crowd that her mission to turn the country into a more conservative one is something she thinks about from the moment she awakes in the morning. And I believed her, as she declared that America is an "indispensable nation" fighting against socialism and "egregious moral wrongs."
As she ended her speech with the now-famous phrase "Let's Roll!"
-- meant to remind everyone of the sacrifice of those on the plane that went down in a Pennsylvania field on 9/11 after passengers tried to overpower the hijackers -- it was clear that CPAC organizers chose the right person for their keynote speech. And if I were Sarah Palin (the CPAC no-show), I'd be thinking about buying a ticket to Washington before the conference closes.
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