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Bachmann arriving on stage last night - new lights and all
Tea Party

Michele Bachmann: The Tea Party is good for America

The US presidential candidate said the right-wing group are “the best antidote” to Obama’s policies – but her lighting setup sparked controversy.

US PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER Michele Bachmann has hailed the right-wing Tea Party movement after claiming victory in an early poll among Republican candidates.

At a question-and-answer session in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, she said: “The Tea Party has been the best antidote to the out-of-control spending we have seen,” UPI reports. “The Tea Party has done something else for us too. They pointed out the unbelievable level of debt we have.”

Bachmann was dismissing criticisms that Republican representatives aligned with the Tea Party – which lobbies for reduced government – had damaged America’s economy by refusing to allow President Barack Obama to raise the country’s so-called ‘debt ceiling’. “We should praise the Tea Party, not diss them,” she added at the event last night, according to Newsmax.

On Saturday, Bachmann won a straw poll among contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in the key primary state of Iowa. USA Today reports that she told an interviewer the next morning: “People in Iowa sent a message loud and clear to President Obama. They said, ‘We are done with your policies. We want something very different.’”

However, the front-runner also struck a controversial note at last night’s event after it emerged she had refused to dine with the audience, and remained on her campaign bus while rivals Rick Perry and Rick Santorum were speaking.

Judd Saul, head of the local Tea Party branch, told the Texas Tribune: “I was really a big fan of hers up until how I saw her come into this event,” Saul said. “Her coming in, not eating dinner with us, showing up with a grand entrance with a big song playing… it’s not what it’s about here.”

Bachmann also refused to allow Perry to share her stage lighting set-up. “She didn’t want to be in the room when he was talking,” Saul continued. “And if you noticed, it got brighter when Michele Bachmann got in because she didn’t want to share her lights with Rick Perry.”

Meanwhile, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty announced he was quitting the race for the Republican nomination after a poorer than expected third-place showing in the same poll. He said he had brought a “rational, establised, credible, strong record” – but voters were “looking for something different”, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Read more: Tea Party favourite Bachmann wins Election 2012 test vote in Iowa >

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