GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann concluded a weekend of Florida events with a Sarasota rally cosponsored by the local Republican Party and a handful of tea party and 912 groups, repeating her calls to eliminate both the EPA and the Department of Education and promising to lead the charge to repeal “ObamaCare.”
Hundreds of Sarasota residents packed the Sahib Shrine Temple Sunday afternoon, many wearing yellow “Tea Party Manatee” or red “Venice 912″ T-shirts. Local Republican Party chairman Joe Gruters MCed the event, developer Pat Neal offered a prayer and state Rep. Ray Pilon led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Bachmann opened her speech with a dig at President Obama, pledging to never use a teleprompter and to never appoint a “czar” in the “Bachmann White House.” “When it comes to foreign policy, you won’t see me step one toe out of this country and apologize for the United States of America,” she said.
Bachmann then began discussing America’s extended economic downturn. She said the nation is facing “sobering, sobering times” and raised the specter of Chinese economic ascendancy to warn the crowd about the need to cut government spending and change the tax code.
“By 2015, we in the United States will be paying so much interest to China, we will be paying the entire Chinese military,” she said. “When money drains out of the country, what goes with it? Power. Our power goes with it. Our influence goes with it.”
But according to Bachmann, China’s rise is not a sure thing. ”I would much prefer to see the United States be the premier economic power in the world,” she said. “And we can. It’s entirely possible to see that happen again.”
Bachmann’s formula for accomplishing that begins with eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency, or, as she called it, “the job-killing agency of America.”
“Let me see a show of hands,” she said. “Who here wants dirty water? Who here wants dirty air?” When no one raised a hand, she said that Americans believe in “true conservation,” not in regulating greenhouse gases. She also called for closing the Department of Education.
The crowd responded most loudly when Bachmann pledged to repeal “ObamaCare.” She said that federal health care reform is “the biggest bureaucracy that has ever been created in the United States” and that “this terrible foundation for socialized medicine” will lead to the rationing of procedures like hip replacements, a nod to the largely gray-haired audience. “I will not rest until we repeal ObamaCare!” she shouted, to loud applause and cheers.
She called the 2012 election conservatives’ “one chance” to stop the health care law, saying that even future Republican lawmakers would be unable to undo it.
“This is the critical election of our time, on every level,” she said near the close of her speech. “If we will remain that No. 1 military superpower or not — that question is not yet decided. … Will we remain the No. 1 economic superpower or not? … Will we abide by socialized medicine or not?”
Bachmann didn’t delve into social conservative issues (topics she addressed in a speech at the Florida Family Policy Council on Saturday night), but her stance on LGBT issues did inspire a few dozen protestors — mostly drawn from nearby New College of Florida — to hold signs and chant outside the event. According to New College student Taylor Rothenberg, a handful of students with T-shirts bearing Obama’s face or slogans like “Legalize Gay” waited in the long, snaking line to enter the event, but were shut out.