Elections

Tea party favorite Michele Bachmann to be frequent Bluffton visitor

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., will make her second trip to South Carolina this year, appearing in April at three events in Bluffton.

Whether the visit is part of a 2012 presidential bid is anyone's guess.

Bachmann, a leader of the national tea party movement, stopped by the Palmetto State, home of the first Republican presidential primary in the South, in February when her engagements included a speech to the S.C. Federation of Republican Women in Columbia. She also has recently traveled to early-voting state Iowa. This weekend, the three-term congresswoman will attend a fundraiser in New Hampshire, where the first presidential primaries are held.

In an appearance Tuesday on CNN, Bachmann said she'll decide if she will seek the presidency by "early summer."

Her chief of staff, Andy Parrish, said the visits to the primary states are to energize the grassroots and ensure President Barack Obama is replaced by a "constitutionally based conservative."

Bluffton resident Kimberly Tatro of the Lowcountry Business Circle will host a reception for "Bachmann for Congress" April 15 at her home. Tickets are $100 per person and $175 per couple, and Tatro said she's gotten a warm response to the event, which she hopes will draw 200 people.

"I think she is a dynamic woman, and I have the utmost respect for her," Tatro said. "I don't think anybody thought she would say yes because we are not representing the tea party or the Republican Party."

Tatro said Hilton Head Island-based attorney Lauren Martel invited Bachmann to speak April 16 at a nonpartisan voter-registration event at the Old Town Dispensary on Calhoun Street. The idea for the fundraiser reception grew from there, Tatro said.

Martel said she met Bachmann at a tea party breakfast in Irmo during the congresswoman's February visit, and she invited Bachmann to "speak about what it means to be an American."

The Bluffton voter-registration event -- which will feature food, drinks, music and face painting -- is billed as an all-American afternoon aimed at increasing voter turnout, Dispensary owner Thomas Viljac said.

Martel said she admires Bachmann for speaking out against "reckless, out-of-control spending."

"She has a message that I believe needs to be heard," Martel said. "To listen to what she has to say, without jumping to partisan issues too quickly, would behoove every American, no matter what generation or what walk of life."

Bachmann is an outspoken critic of the health care reform law and advocates deep budget cuts to curb the national deficit.

She also is scheduled to speak to the Bluffton Tea Party on April 16. Party co-leader Nancy Lorraine said she expects the meeting to allow party members to hear about Bachmann's work on the House's Financial Services Committee and "the inside scoop on Washington."

"Bachmann has pushed for constitutionally based values, and that's what the tea party is fighting for," Lorraine said. "Whether she runs for president, vice president or just serves as an adviser to the next president, the tea party is fully behind her."

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