Gannett News Service
WASHINGTON — Sounding every bit like a candidate on the campaign trail, Rep. Michele Bachmann scorched President Barack Obamaâ€™s Israel policy Friday, urged conservative activists to block the new health care law in their states and branded Planned Parenthood a criminal enterprise.
Speaking to scores of conservatives at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, Bachmann gave a sample of what her key themes are likely to be if she enters the race for the 2012 Republican nomination as expected. She said 2012 presents a prime opportunity for conservatives to take make headway on the abortion issue and a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Bachmann, R-Stillwater, called for defunding of Planned Parenthood, which provides family planning programs and other services for women, such as cancer screenings, breast exams and HIV testing.
â€œWeâ€™re giving money to corrupt groups like Planned Parenthood,â€ an organization that she said is â€œcommitting crimes and enabling young, minor girls. This organization has by their own records performed 324,008 abortions in 2008 and 2009, and thatâ€™s in addition to the trafficking of underage girls that has gone on under Planned Parenthoodâ€™s nose.â€
Planned Parenthood said in a statement that the organization has an excellent track record of providing care to millions of women and teens.
â€œThe health and safety of patients is our No. 1 priority and Planned Parenthood has a zero-tolerance policy for any staff member who does not comply with the law in reporting threats to the welfare of a minor,â€ the statement said. â€œPlanned Parenthood takes very seriously the trust placed in us by the public.â€
Having won a third term to the House of Representatives last November, Bachmann, 55, is weighing a presidential bid. Political experts expect the tea party champion to enter the fray, and there have been more signs recently that sheâ€™s preparing to announce her candidacy.
On Wednesday, Bachmannâ€™s chief of staff, Andy Parrish, notified staff via e-mail that he was taking a leave of absence to work for Bachmann in a different capacity. And CNN announced Friday that Bachmann would be among seven Republican 2012 prospects participating in the first presidential debate in New Hampshire, on June 13. Bachmann has said she intends to reveal her decision this month.
If she enters the race, Bachmann would join fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty, the former governor, in a GOP field that includes former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a 2008 candidate who is considered the frontrunner. The field also includes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Georgia businessman Herman Cain and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
While Bachmann did not announce her candidacy during her speech Friday, she reiterated her goal of making Obama a one-term president. She harshly criticized the presidentâ€™s recent remarks on settling the territorial dispute between Israel and Palestinians and declared her support for Israel.
â€œPresident Obama speaks for a very tiny minority,â€ Bachmann said. â€œHe may be president of the United States, but he doesnâ€™t speak for us on the issue of Israel.â€
Bachmann also repeated her assertion that Obama and Democrats hid $105 billion in funding for the health care law, a charge that several fact-finding organizations have debunked. She urged the activists in the audience to â€œwork in your states to prevent the early implementation of ObamaCare.â€
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