Tea party favorite and potential presidential candidate Michele Bachmann rallied the faithful at two events in Bluffton on Saturday as part of a visit to South Carolina she said is intended to ensure that President Barack Obama is not re-elected in 2012.
Bachmann, a Republican U.S. representative from Minnesota, attacked Obama on healthcare reform, U.S. military involvement in Libya, the deficit and rising gas prices at a tea party breakfast and an afternoon rally billed as a non-partisan voter registration event.
"I really don't think he is on our side," Bachmann told more than 300 enthusiastic supporters at the Golden Corral breakfast.
She said she would be -- if she decides to run for the nation's highest office.
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"If I am decided to be (the Republican) nominee, I will take bold, strong decisions even if it means being a one-term president because we have to turn this country around," Bachmann said.
Obama, she said, is "irritated" by people's success -- thus his budget proposal to end the Bush-era tax cuts for wealthier Americans. Bachmann said she doesn't see wealth as "a punishable offense."
As president, she said she would abolish the tax code, break up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and get the government out of all industry and higher education.
Bluffton Tea Party co-leader Mary Lou Lineberger said that while the group doesn't endorse candidates, Bachmann "is a freedom fighter and we need her."
At an afternoon press conference, Bachmann said she sees South Carolina as a "launching pad" to the White House. She said South Carolinians "epitomize what's happening all over the country" in terms of growing political awareness and involvement.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, introduced Bachmann at both events and said she is "saying things none of us thought needed to be said because they're so obvious."
"She is up there (in Washington D.C.) speaking for you and me," Davis said.
Davis and Bachmann praised the tea party movement for staying engaged in the political process.
Davis said state legislators have bet the grassroots movement will fizzle, but that the size of Saturday's crowds proved them wrong.
Organizers moved the afternoon event to Montana's Grizzly Bar and Restaurant from Bluffton's Promenade after the skies threatened rain. The restaurant was packed with supporters.
There, Bachmann told the crowd to "rise up and take the country back" by voting to defeat Obama in 2012.
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-West Columbia, told the crowd not to take democracy for granted. He encouraged them to help elect a Republican-majority U.S. Senate.
Will Gorman, wearing an American flag in his jacket pocket, said tea party members at the event disproved the stereotypes of group members as fanatics.
Instead, he said, they are calm and rational individuals who have taken up the responsibility of holding politicians accountable.
"It's important we all get involved," Gorman said.
Gorman, along with Bluffton tea party members John and Pat Depalma, said they were impressed with Bachmann's stance against the healthcare reform law.
Bachmann, making her second visit to South Carolina this year, isn't the only potential presidential candidate in the state this weekend. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has been making the rounds of GOP county conventions.
To end her swing through the state, Bachmann will appear at a Statehouse Tax Day tea party rally in Columbia Monday with Gov. Nikki Haley.