ABC News' Russell Goldman (@GoldmanRussell) reports:
Michele Bachmann, a three-term congresswoman and favorite to social conservatives and the Tea Party, formally kicked off her campaign in Waterloo, Iowa, the town of her birth, telling the crowd a vote for her would be “a bold choice.”
Outside a museum, and onetime women’s club, Rep. Bachmann, R-Minn., said her run for the White House was “not for vanity” and that Americans must make "a bold choice if we are to secure the promise of the future.”
“I am here in Waterloo, Iowa, to announce today: We can win in 2012 and we will,” she said.
“My voice is part of a movement to take back our country, and now I want to take that voice to the White House. It is the voice of constitutional conservatives who want our government to do its job and not ours and who want our government to live within its means and not our children's and grandchildren's,” she said.
Her announcement touted her heartland values and assailed President Obama for allowing outsized debt and spending.
“We cannot continue to rack up debt on the backs of future generation,” she said.” We can't afford an unconstitutional health plan that costs too much and is worth so little. And we can't afford four more years of failed leadership at home and abroad. We can't afford four more years of millions of Americans out of work or in jobs that pay too little to support their families,” she told the modest sized crowd.
Bachmann spoke of being raised in this small Iowa town and her first foray into politics supporting Democrat Jimmy Carter. Later she became a Republican – not staunchly conservative – when, she said, she realized government was a problem not a solution.
“I don't believe that the solutions to our problems come from Washington. More than ever, Washington is the problem, and the real solutions will come from our businesses, our communities, our schools and the most basic and powerful unit of all our families.”
Already, this hometown hero has made an impressive showing in early Iowa polls and she has demonstrated an ability to stir crowds unseen in other members of the Republican field.
Once considered a far-right fringe candidate, with a penchant for making provocative statements and sometime gaffes, Bachmann has surged in the polls.
She arrived in Iowa Sunday riding high on the results of a Des Moines Register poll that put her just behind frontrunner Mitt Romney among Iowa voters likely to take part in the state’s Republican primary.
Romney remained at the front of the pack, receiving 23 percent of the votes. But Bachmann came in a close second with 22 percent.
After today’s event, Bachmann will go to two other important early primary states – New Hampshire and South Carolina.
After months of playing coy about whether she would run, Bachmann announced early this month during a televised debate that she would seek the nomination.
That announcement and a subsequent Welcome Home rally Sunday in Waterloo were a prelude to today’s official announcement.
Head of the House Tea Party Caucus, she has made a name for herself among the GOP’s activist grassroots wing. Those supporters have contributed millions of dollars to her congressional campaign in small donations and she’s betting she can repeat that magic in her bid for the White House.
Bachmann in recent weeks has largely stayed on message, targeting Obama on his health care and economic recovery policies and avoiding the gaffes that had previously made her the brunt of jokes on "Saturday Night Live."
But just before departing for Iowa, Bachmann was put on the spot about those statements. In an interview on Fox, Chris Wallace asked her: “Are you a flake.”
She called the question insulting and Wallace later apologized.