ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:
Who wowed the social conservative crowd at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference this weekend? Several attendees told ABC News they were smitten by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.
“At the moment, I like Michele Bachmann,” Meredith Cuddy of Summerfield, Fla., told ABC News. “She’s not as much a party Republican, which I like.”
Bachmann’s speech early in the day drew multiple standing ovations and rounds of cheers from the crowd, leaving many with the hope that she’ll run in 2012.
“I loved Michele Bachmann,” Anna Little of Highlands, N.J., told ABC News. “I think, you know, a historic presidency could be followed by another history presidency.”
But what if both Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann enter the race?
“I think there’s room for both of them,” Little said. “I’m a redhead, so I’d probably lean towards Sarah. And she’s from a small town like I am. But I love Michele too.”
Even though Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty hadn’t spoken yet, some social conservatives were most eager to listen to what the former governors have to say.
“I’m a huge fan of Mitt Romney right now,” Jeremy Bailie of Tampa, Fla., told ABC News. “I think he’s got the best chance overall to beat Obama in the general election. That’s kind of what’s important, is winning back the White House and getting someone in there who’s going to be able to handle the economic situation and not really worry about the social issues that are sort of on the fringe right now.”
But one voter ABC News spoke with viewed Romney’s stance on social issues as troubling.
“He seemed to flip-flop a little bit on social issues,” Brian Miller of Pensacola, Fla., said. “If he wants to unite everyone in the primary and get everybody behind him, he’s going to have to take a harder line.”
Miller thinks Pawlenty is the right choice to unite the GOP in 2012.
“Right now, I really like Tim Pawlenty. I think that he has the right track record to unite all the GOP groups,” Miller said. “Out of all the candidates, the only two who can beat Obama are Pawlenty and Romney and the only one who could beat Romney is Pawlenty.”
The Faith and Freedom Coalition conference continues on Saturday with speeches by candidate Herman Cain and soon-to-announce candidate Rick Santorum.
Donna Hoak of The Villages, Florida said she is looking forward to hearing Herman Cain speak on Saturday.
“I’ve seen him three times so far and I like him because he’s not a politician. He has the same values that we do,” Hoak told ABC News.
Overall, attendees were pleased with the message speakers left with the social conservative crowd on Friday.
“I was impressed with all the speakers. I was surprised, pleasantly so,” Cuddy said. “I thought the enthusiasm they showed was rather unique.”