Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (CNN) - Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s debut in South Carolina as a presidential candidate drew what was unquestionably the largest crowd of the political season to date in the key early primary state.
Nearly 400 people showed up to get their first glimpse of the newly minted candidate, far surpassing crowd sizes at campaign appearances in South Carolina by Republicans like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
If enthusiasm alone wins elections, Bachmann might not have much to worry about in the coming months.
Bachmann was a late arrival to the rally, held outside an aquarium in Myrtle Beach, after flying in from a morning stop in New Hampshire. But her tardiness did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd.
She stepped off a brand-new campaign bus to find an audience peppered with supporters waving Gadsden flags and other emblems of the Tea Party movement.
“The disaster that began four years ago will end right here, November 6, 2012,” Bachmann said, vowing to make President Barack Obama a one-term president. It was the first of several red-meat one-liners.
Bachmann said she plans to win decisive early victories in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina on her way to the White House. She promised to follow that with a national campaign – even in the heavily Democratic state of Hawaii.
“We want to win Hawaii,” she said. “And we think that there is a certain Hawaiian president who should go back to Hawaii!”
Pacing a small dais with her husband Marcus at her side, Bachmann rattled off a familiar list of criticisms against “Obamacare” and other regulations coming out of Washington.
She pointed specifically to the National Labor Relations Board complaint against Boeing, which is trying to open a new plant in North Charleston, as an example of how the Obama administration does not understand job creation.
The crowd jeered when she recounted recent House testimony from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, accusing him of wanting to hike taxes on small businesses in order to maintain the size of government programs.
Citing her experience as a “former federal tax lawyer,” she said she understands the “the devastation of high taxes” on small businesses.
Several South Carolina voters told CNN before and after the speech that while they had not yet picked a candidate, Bachmann was already a favorite thanks to her charisma and unabashed conservatism.
“I think it’s time for a woman to get into office,” said Carmine Greco, a retiree originally from New York. “She is right with the people. She is authentic. She is sincere in what she says.”
Tim Jacobson, who manages an OfficeMax in Myrtle Beach, said he is choosing between Bachmann, Romney and businessman Herman Cain. He said he might like to see a Romney-Bachmann ticket.
“I think Michele brings so much energy to the ticket and Romney has huge business experience,” he said. “They could balance each other out.”
South Carolina state Rep. Thad Viers, an ally of Gov. Nikki Haley in the state legislature, introduced Bachmann at the rally and later said he was likely to endorse her presidential bid.
“I am a Tea Party candidate and none of the candidates right now are Tea Party,” Viers told CNN. “She is the only one who walks the walk and talks the talk.”
After the event, Bachmann told reporters that she would not be distracted by the media’s focus on some of her recent verbal miscues, like her mistaken claim Monday that actor John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa.
“I think that it just goes with territory,” she said of the media attention. “I think you need to be ready with what the media brings.”
Bachmann has four more stops planned across in South Carolina, culminating with a town hall in Rock Hill on Wednesday.
That is so funny.
Sarah Palin had over 1000 at a last minut BBQ in Iowa. You want to see crowds? When Palin gets in you will see crowds bigger than 2008.
400 – you call that a lot of people. What a joke???
400 people is a large crowd? About the amount of dolts I would expect to listen to this liar talk. She will be gone soon so they might as well enjoy all the attacks on the president while they can. She doesn't have plan #1 of how to create jobs. If cutting taxes on the rich produced jobs we should be swimming in them, after 9 years of this crap. They have cut revenue so low no they have people beleiving they have to cut social security and medicare to get out of the mess they created in the first place, these people that beleive this stuff need their head examined.
Wow! 400 people show up, you called that a big crowd!
wow 400 is a big crowd ?
A subconscious comparison to Sarah Palin makes Bachmann look and people think she is smarter and more prepared than she really is. Because Palin was such a mess, Michele apears ok, but in reality she is just as bad a leader.
400 hundred at a rally is considered a lot? And she seriously thinks she can take Barack? What a joke. Bachmann is a joke on as many levels as Palin. I actually feel sorry for true conservative GOPers. I mean, really? This is it? Bahahahahhaha
OK...she clearly passes the first test of a Republican presidential candidate. Simultaneously wow the idiots of South Carolina and become the butt of jokes among New Yorkers. We NY'ers not only voted AGAINST Bush TWICE, but we also WON the Civil War!.....thus proving that we were not only smarter....but also morally superior than the folks in SC.
Looks like the mainstream media is working hard to vett Michele Bachmann and she's only been running 1 day. It's been over three years and BHO has yet to be vetted. Where are his college transcripts? How about the money trail for the purchase of his house in Chicago? What about his voting record in Illinois and in the Senate? There must be associations here that any "good" reporter would love to sink his teeth into. The dirt will fly but Michelle Bachmann is one tough Conservative woman. Seems like we have quite a few of those lately. And guess what – they are not Harvard elitists.
Wow! 400! That would be 300 members of the press and 100 Tea Pot Heads. The thinking voters had to wash their hair that day. Just another dwarf in the GOP primary race, showing how little they know on any subject. Whoops., another media attack!
So where's the comment Bachman recently made that all government regulations for business should be looked at including having a minimum wage, so people could keep more of their money. Really America? Really?
More proof how susceptible some are to the GOBPbaggers toxic mix of fear, lies, ignorance, hate and slavish devotion to the failed cult of deregulation and tax cuts for the filthy rich.
Four Hundred People! Wow!
If they all vote for her – she'll still be a loser!
keep up the great effort Michelle, you don't have my vote, but I admire your effort. Really I do.
After all the tea party has done to this country and the Republicans in the last two years, you mean some people would actually vote one of their candidates into the White House?