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N.H. Tea Partiers Rally Behind Bachmann

As the New Hampshire primary nears, we’re going to spend time getting to know voters there. We opened in the small town of Mont Vernon. Here, we visit Rochester, a city on the Maine border.

ROCHESTER, N.H. — On Thursday, Mitt Romney campaigns in New Hampshire, where he’ll meet with voters in Portsmouth, Derry and Rochester. The former Massachusetts governor is this state’s front-runner, but there’s surging interest among Tea Partiers in Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

The monthly meeting of the Rochester 9/12 Project in the Salmon Falls Church here is the place to be for campaigns trying to get Tea Partiers excited about their candidates.

It’s where Nick Trainer, a field representative with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s campaign, found himself Monday night. He was making a pitch for his candidate when he found out what a tough crowd this could be.

“Any idea when he’s going to stop throwing bombs at Bachmann?” asked one participant.

“Um, I don’t think that that was a bomb … on ‘Meet the Press’,” Trainer replied.

Here’s what Pawlenty said about Bachmann on “Meet the Press” that left some in the church unhappy:

Her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent. It’s nonexistent, and so we’re not looking for folks who just have speech capabilities. We’re looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I’ve done that. She hasn’t.

From a back pew, Don Medberry came to Bachmann’s defense and put Pawlenty’s man on the spot.

“She has businesses, so she has executive experience, so that’s in the eyes of the beholder,” Medberry said. “That’s enough for me.”

“Bachmann is No. 2 right now, and she’s getting better and better. She’s resonating and resonating.”
– Don Medberry, N.H. voter

“OK,” Trainer said. “And as for his comment about her congressional record, she really doesn’t have too many congressional accomplishments since she’s gotten there. She’s spoken strongly about issues, but the governor’s campaign is about results, not rhetoric, and that’s the way he feels on the issue.”

“Well, I think what you need to do is take a lesson from [former President] Reagan — just keep your mouth shut about the other part of the party and keep goin’,” Medberry said.

“That’s exactly right,” agreed another participant.

Bachmann has surged to second place in the latest University of New Hampshire poll to become Romney’s leading challenger in the state. Outside the church, Medberry explained why he thinks it’s a mistake for any Republican candidate to put her down at this point.

“Bachmann is No. 2 right now,” he said, “and she’s getting better and better. She’s resonating and resonating. What’s the best thing we see in the Democrats? The Democrats have over us their message. It resonates, because they just continuously say the same thing over and over and over again.”

Medberry and many others in New Hampshire increasingly see Bachmann as the best candidate to make the case against President Obama.

In Medberry’s opinion, Romney is not a good messenger for Republicans.

“He adjusts his story for the crowd that’s going to fit,” he said. “To me, that’s what a Democrat does. The thing that bothers me is he switches, switches channels. He’s a switcher.”

One of Medberry’s fellow Tea Partiers at the church calls the group the bouncers of the Republican Party. They want to make sure they keep people not in line with their beliefs out of the running for the nomination. Right now, Bachmann is quickly becoming their favorite.

And that could spell trouble for Romney. He’s counting on New Hampshire and its independent voters to help him win the nomination.

Every campaign has sent someone to the Salmon Falls Church or let the group meet the candidate. But not Romney’s — yet. The Rochester group has asked the Romney campaign to send someone. They say they’re looking forward to talking to him.

Correction: An earlier version of this story’s headline may have made it seem that the New Hampshire Tea Party supports Bachmann. The organization does not endorse candidates.

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  • Anonymous

    The NH Tea Party does NOT endorse. WBUR needs to correct this title ASAP.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JR3POLOBLJXXB53FM6G2LCRKUE Dave

    It is impossible for me to imagine that Michele Bachmann could be nominated as the candidate from the Republican party.  So many of her statements have been fact checked and turned out to be dead wrong.  It seems that when people are scared and angry, they really do not think things through very carefully.

    I think the Republican party is flirting with disaster with this woman.  I only hope that if she wins the nomination,  the public will take a closer look at her and realize how poorly informed and what a bad choice she would be.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3RYMRHE2JOF6KYNR5E3U3LYRLU paul

    Oh…this isn’t The Onion?

    Hmmmmm………

  • GSPL_PAC

    As the Organizer of the Rochester 912 Project I want to thank Fred Thys for being very courteous. We had a woman speaking of her experience living under communism in Romania and she was very frightened of her story being recorded as in a communist country the recording would have been used against her and her family. This a story that every American should hear.  Our group has a record of holding candidates accountable for their words and their voting record (if they have one).  The primary has not been held yet and we intend on letting each candidate state their case as to why they believe they would be the best choice for President by the voter.  All candidates and our sitting President as well are reponsible to all Americans regardless of party and the Constitution is their guide book.  We have gotten into trouble when both parties have neglected to honor their oath to uphold the Constitution.  Both parties have been guilty of this in Congress, the courts and the Executive branch.  Our country isn’t in the trouble it finds itself in just because of the demorcrats or the republicans, both parties have delivered us here.  It is time we Americans realize this and put the survival of our Republic ahead of any party affiliation. 

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