HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - She founded the Tea Party caucus and made a national splash last week with her response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Hawaii News Now had the only camera there Wednesday - as Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann talked dollars and sense and about many other issues facing the country.
Bachmann says Hawaii has a real opportunity to ignite a fire and create new ideas with the Tea Party movement. She says conservatives don't have the luxury of getting complacent in a largely-democratic state and that, in her opinion, is a gift.
Bachmann makes no bones about it. She's a fiscal conservative who believes Americans should keep what they earn.
"Now, isn't that a novel concept in 2011?!" she exclaims. "That you get to keep the fruit of your labor. Interestingly, government seems now to think that your only purpose is to provide them with revenue."
The 54 year old lawmaker was the first Republican woman from Minnesota to be elected to Congress and within a couple of years, she founded the Tea Party caucus. "The tea party movement, as I define it, is this: if you reject the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda, you're tea party," explained Bachmann.
The former U.S. Treasury department tax attorney talked to a sell-out crowd at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii luncheon in Honolulu. Topics ranged from fair and flat tax to the President's healthcare plan to what she says is a $1.5 trillion budget deficit. She's says the Obama administration is heading in the wrong direction.
"It isn't that the President is evil. I think the President is just wrong. I think he's wrong in the decisions that he's taking the country down."
It was Bachmann who pushed to give the Tea Party response after President Obama's address - which caused some dissention among Republicans - and plenty of buzz on Capitol Hill. Now, many are wondering if she's got her eye on 2012. She answers in general terms. "We need a strong constitutional conservative as President who understands the times we live in and who knows what to do and who has the intestinal fortitude and political courage to do it."
Bachmann is just the latest of many national political figures who've come to Hawaii recently. Aside from President Obama, former Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele, Republican strategist Karl Rove, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and Republican Mitt Romney have all visited lately, and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich will be here later this month. Gingrich will be speaking at the Republican Party of Hawaii's Lincoln day fundraiser on February 18th. Bachmann is now on Maui - where she'll be meeting with more Tea Party members.