LYNCHBURG, Va. — As the most vocal social conservative in the Republican presidential primary contest, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota on Wednesday made the requisite pilgrimage to Liberty University, where she described her religious awakening to a receptive crowd of young evangelical Christians.
Her recent sag in public opinion polls did little to dim her fire at Liberty, purportedly the largest Christian university in the world and a frequent stop for conservative politicians looking to secure the evangelical vote. Five of the GOP presidential nominees have already made the trek to Lynchburg.
“You deserve more than a nation that settles,” Bachmann said to nearly 10,000 students assembled in the Vines Center, a mega-church-like venue on Liberty’s campus. “So I charge you this morning, don’t settle, don’t settle with this gift that he has given you. Don’t settle when it comes to your personal life. Don’t settle when it comes to your career decisions and certainly don’t settle when it comes with your relationship with Jesus Christ.”
She clearly struck a chord with the students, who gave her a rousing standing ovation at the end of her remarks. Like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who visited Liberty earlier this month, Bachmann also used the opportunity to share her personal experiences with discovering God at age 16. She said that she was on her way to a party at a church with three friends. They discovered there was no party going on, but all three felt drawn to the altar and felt touched by God, she said.
“I knelt down beside my bed and I said to the Lord when I got home, ‘I don’t know what just happened to me, but I know I’m completely different than I was before,’” Bachmann said. “I radically abandoned myself to Jesus Christ. ‘Whatever you have for me, I’m here and I’m ready. Take me, I’m yours.’”
Unlike Perry, who stuck to a mostly personal message at Liberty, Bachmann did not shy away from overtly political themes. He gave her standard critique of “Obamacare,” adding that if the president’s health-care law is not repealed, the nation would have to live with “socialized medicine” for a long time.
Following the speech, Bachmann acknowledged that she’s trailing other candidates in the race, but predicted she would make a comeback. “This happens,” she said. “In races, you have ups, you have downs, and we’re on the upswing now. And we can’t wait to go forward and to secure the nomination.”
Asked about the potential of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie getting into the primary race, Bachmann said, “I love Gov. Christie. I think he’s marvelous! And I’m pleased with the field that we have and I’d be more than happy to have Gov. Christie join us if he’d like to.”