AIKEN — Gail Harville supports GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann because she wants a candidate who can debate President Obama “and beat him.”
But that’s not enough for her husband, Bill, who added, “someone who will shred him!”
The North Augusta couple were among about four dozen fans, activists and skeptics who turned out for the Minnesota congresswoman’s book signing Saturday morning at Books-A-Million in Aiken.
A handful hoped to see a ticket that combines Bachmann and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the latest contender to march to the front of the GOP field.
“I could go either way, Bachmann-Gingrich or Gingrich-Bachmann,” Harville said. Her husband favored a pairing with Gingrich in the presidential slot.
But Roy Luke, of Martinez, said putting Gingrich with Bachmann would be a mistake, in part because he said former Georgia congressman “turns people off. It’s his image.”
What’s more, Luke said, the ticket would be unbalanced. Pairing Bachmann with the more moderate Mitt Romney as a vice presidential candidate would stretch the GOP ticket’s appeal, he said.
“That would work because we’ve got to bring in the political middle ground,” Luke said.
Brian Raborn, 17, who is home-schooled and serves as the vice chairman of Teenage Republicans of Aiken, said he’s still making up his mind about the field but said that Bachmann “seems to have a backbone.”
While signing copies of her memoir, Core of Conviction, Bachmann offered brief comments about repealing Obama’s health care law.
“People recognize that the federal government doesn’t do a very good job at running anything, and they don’t want their health care run by the federal government either,” she said.
When asked what she would say to Herman Cain supporters who are looking for a new candidate after Cain suspended his campaign Saturday, the congresswoman had no tailored pitch.
“I think that for all the candidates’ supporters, I would be the best candidate, so I ask them all to come and support me,” said Bachmann, who was elected to Congress in 2006 after serving in the Minnesota State Senate from 2000-2006.
But poll numbers don’t reflect the soaring confidence of Bachmann’s supporters.
An InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research poll conducted Nov. 28 for The Augusta Chronicle about South Carolina’s Republican primary had Gingrich leading with 38 percent support, followed by Romney with 15, Cain with 13, Ron Paul with 7, Rick Perry with 4, Bachmann with 3 percent, Rick Santorum with 2, “someone else” at 5 percent and 13 percent of respondents offering no opinion. The telephone survey targeted 519 registered voters who say they are likely to vote in the state’s Jan. 21 GOP primary.
A campaign spokeswoman said Bachmann would be leaving later in the day for New York City to participate in Mike Huckabee’s Fox News Channel presidential forum. She planned to return to South Carolina on Sunday to visit Myrtle Beach and Florence before returning to New York, then Washington, D.C., and Iowa.
S.C. Sen. Lee Bright, a Spartanburg Republican with Bachmann’s team, said the previous day the candidate had attracted a wrap-a-round crowd in Greenville. He said she is the only candidate whose supporters don’t have to condition their pitch with excuses for policy inconsistencies.
Ideological purity was key to Susan Swanson’s support for Bachmann.
“Michele Bachmann is the conservative candidate,” the North Augusta resident said.
“She’s been the real leader of the Tea Party, and other people just try to say that.”
There was at least one Democrat in the crowd, too.
“I come from a very divided family,” said Barnwell resident Harold Geddings, a 33-year-old sheet metal worker at Savannah River Site. He attended the event to have Bachmann sign her book as a Christmas gift to his mother, who is a Republican.
Geddings said Bachmann is his preferred Republican candidate because she would be easiest for Obama to defeat in the general election, noting that he is a member of the Facebook group Democrats for Bachmann.
“I like her as a person, but she just has too much ideological baggage,” Geddings said. “But she did just encourage me to run for Congress.”