Michele Bachmann failed to charm the attendees of the Black Hawk County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner on Sunday evening. Reportedly, the winner of Saturday's Ames Straw Poll "campaigned like a celebrity" at the event, which took place in her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa. And by "celebrity," they mean diva:
She camped out in her bus, parked on the street in front of a nearby Ramada Hotel, until it was time to take the stage. Even after a local official’s introduction, Bachmann was nowhere to be found. It was not until a second staffer assured her that the lighting had been changed and a second introduction piped over the loudspeakers that she entered the former dance hall here. By the time she made her big entrance to bright lights and blaring music, the crowd seemed puzzled.
In contrast, Texas governor Rick Perry, with whom Bachmann shared the bill, showed up early and picked up brownie points by thoroughly working the room. He shook hands, posed for pictures, and even took the time to "listen politely to a windy Abraham Lincoln impersonator."
After delivering her stump speech and — somewhat confusingly — awarding an apple pie to "the oldest mother in the room," Bachmann remained onstage to sign T-shirts, which she then handed off to her staff to distribute to fans. Unlike Perry, she declined to do an audience Q&A, though she did take questions from a few preselected reporters whose names she read from a list. None of this did much to endear her to the Republican faithful who had come to meet the wild-eyed presidential hopeful:
“She kept us waiting, she was not here mixing — then she was talking about what a great evening it was. How do you know? You just got here,” said Karen Vanderkrol, of Hudson, Iowa, who said she agreed with the substance of Bachmann’s speech, but that one line in particular had rung false: “I am a real person.”
Harsh words for a candidate who seems to be betting a lot on her down-home appeal. Obviously, the Minnesota congresswoman has a ways to go in terms of making people comfortable with her, though not reminding Waterloo's townspeople of local non-hero John Wayne Gacy is at least a start.