Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., officially launched her presidential candidacy Monday in Iowa, a state she desperately needs to win if she is to become a viable contender in the Republican race for the White House.
Speaking from her childhood hometown of Waterloo, Bachmann railed against big government spending that she said has produced widespread economic peril — a message that has made her an icon within the Tea Party that she will attempt to extend to a broader base of conservatives.
"I want my candidacy for the presidency to stand for the moment when 'we the people' reclaimed our independence from a government that has gotten too big, spends too much and has taken away too much of our liberty," she said. "We have to recapture our founders' vision of a constitutionally conservative government if we are to secure the promise of the future."
On her Tea Party ties, she said, "The liberals, and to be clear I'm not one of them, want you to think the Tea Party is the right wing of the Republican Party. But it's not. It's made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who've never been political a day in their life, libertarians, Republicans. We're people who simply want America back on the right track again."
Her remarks featured an abundance of shout outs to the Hawkeye State, where she is banking on hometown support to buoy the seriousness of her campaign.
"I often say that everything I needed to know I learned in Iowa," she said. "I'm a descendent of generations Iowans. I know what it means to be from Iowa—what we value and what's important. Those are the values that helped make Iowa the breadbasket of the world and those are the values, the best of all of us that we must recapture to secure the promise of the future."
Bachmann is seeking to establish herself as the alternative to frontrunner Mitt Romney, who is not focusing his resources in Iowa. The pair was in a virtual tie atop the most recent Iowa poll, showcasing a fluid field that has yet to totally embrace a favored candidate.
Hoping to shed the label as a fringe candidate, Bachmann highlighted her stint working to elect Democrat Jimmy Carter — saying she became a Republican after seeing "how his big spending liberal majority grew government."
As for the so-called meat of her speech, Bachmann assailed a $14 trillion national debt, President Obama's health care overhaul, high unemployment and accused the president of "leading from behind."
Later this week, she will also campaign in early-primary states New Hampshire and South Carolina.