Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann kicked off a three-day swing through Iowa on Friday with a stop in Davenport, launching broadsides at President Barack Obama and telling the audience the GOP should nominate somebody who doesn't just pay "lip service" to social issues such as abortion.
Bachmann has dropped in the polls since scoring a win in the Iowa Straw Poll in August. She has watched as other candidates such as Rick Perry and, more recently, Herman Cain have won the fancy of Iowa Republicans as a potential alternative to Mitt Romney.
However, she returns to the state fresh off hiring a new campaign manager for the state and bulking up her staff.
At the Radisson Quad-City Plaza, she told a group of fewer than 100 that she's a conservative who doesn't compromise.
"We don't have to settle," she said. "We can have a candidate who can do it all."
The Minnesota congresswoman said she's been pro-tea party and has fought the president on a range of fronts, especially "Obamacare." Her tea party remarks come on a day when a tea party leader called for her to drop out of the race.
Bachmann accused the president Friday of usurping congressional authority with his student loan plan, which was announced earlier this week. She said students across the country would be encouraged to borrow billions and that taxpayers would have to pick up the bill.
"This is a new bubble that is about to come before us," she said.
Bachmann also accused the president of backing changes to the country's freedom of information law that would have allowed Richard Nixon to keep secret Watergate tapes.
"Under this rule that President Obama is proposing, the Nixon administration could say, ‘What tapes?' " she said. "We never would have got the tapes with the 18-minute gap and then said, ‘Hey, there's something wrong here.' "
This is Bachmann's first visit to Scott County since the straw poll. And even though her fortunes have slipped in the state since then, the audience warmly applauded her August win at the suggestion of county GOP chairwoman Judy Davidson.
Janina Glass, a Bettendorf woman who brought her children to the event, said she felt comfortable with Bachmann and admired her pluck.
"She is unapologetic," she said. "She's not going to change according to what the latest polls say."
As she frequently does when visiting the state, Bachmann accentuated her Iowa roots, noting it was the Hawkeye State that started Obama on the road to the White House.
"Iowa is what made Barack Obama our president," she said to some laughter. "We all make mistakes, so now we have our chance for redemption."
Allan Bruhn of Davenport said he was impressed by Bachmann and was deciding between her and Newt Gingrich.
"She's from Iowa, so she has common sense," he said.
Bachmann also toured a factory in Muscatine and planned to be in Burlington on Friday.