Bachmann visits megachurch, plans an extra day in Floridaby George Bennett | August 28th, 2011
LUTZ — Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann will extend her Florida campaign swing into Monday because Hurricane Irene scuttled plans to travel north, a Bachmann spokeswoman said today.
The Minnesota congresswoman attended a church service with about 3,000 people at Idlewild Baptist Church near Tampa this morning and plans to attend a rally in Sarasota this afternoon. She will be in South Florida Monday, spokeswoman Alice Stewart said, but specific events haven’t been announced.
Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, sat in the seventh row of the massive church auditorium and were introduced by Pastor Ken Whitten. After the service, she greeted church members, signed autographs and posed for snapshots in a lobby bigger than most shopping mall food courts.
“Florida’s an extremely important state for who will be chosen the next president of the United States, so we intend to be here meeting as many people as we can,” Bachmann told reporters in a brief appearance before boarding her campaign bus.
Asked to contrast herself with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the new Republican candidate who threatens to take away some of her tea party and social conservative support, Bachmann said, “For over four years I’ve been at the tip of the spear fighting battle after battle after battle in Washington, D.C., on the biggest issues of our time that we are facing.”
She mentioned her opposition to the Democratic stimulus and health care bills and the recent raising of the federal debt ceiling, which put her at odds with GOP leadership.
“People are looking for someone who will be a champion for their values and their principles and I have been a proven record….People know that I am a proven fighter with a titanium spine.”
Bachmann campaigned in Jacksonville Beach on Friday and in Central Florida on Saturday. She’ll participate in two nationally televised debates from Florida next month, but has said she won’t actively participate in a Republican Party of Florida straw poll that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is also skipping.