DES MOINES - Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Wednesday that she is America's best hope for breaking the stranglehold that "crony capitalism" has on Washington.
The Minnesota congresswoman said President Obama and "some of our candidates" are compromised with crony capitalism but that is something she "will not stand for" in a Bachmann administration.
"That is the problem with politicians that they're paying off their friends with special favors," Bachmann told an afternoon news conference where she gained the endorsement of state Sen. Merlin Bartz, R-Grafton. "That's something I'll do away with as president of the United States."
"I haven't been for health care mandates," she later said during the taping of an IPTV "Conversations with the Candidates" segment. "I don't have problems with crony capitalism where people have bought me. I can't be bought because I'm not for sale. I don't have a checkered past that people are going to find. They're going to find a true blue person that's going to stand up for Iowa values. That's what Iowans want."
Bachmann, who plans to kick off an ambitious 99-county tour on Friday, said her candidacy is building momentum as the Jan. 3 first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses approach.
"We're moving up," she said. "We're very excited about where we are."
The Minnesota congresswoman said she stands out in the 2012 GOP sweepstakes because she has not compromised with Barack Obama, not on federal budget issues, not on a health-care mandate, not on illegal immigration and not on the financial bailout.
In the general election, Obama would be able to draw similarities with a GOP nominee who agreed with him on those issues, but "he can't say that because I didn't. I've been completely opposed to the president. I'm not a liberal, I'm a proven conservative and that's a big strong point in my favor," she said. "I've been in the lion's den and I've taken on the liberal establishment."
Bachmann said Congress and the president currently remain at "a failure point" on budget and tax policy issues because "the president for all intents and purposes has been A.W.O.L. in any form of leadership. It's really been something that's been disgusting for a lot of Americans."
The Minnesota congresswoman said her August victory in the GOP straw poll in Ames "was chapter one of a good book" and she hopes to replicate that on Jan. 3.
"When I am in the White House, I will be the most bold president that people have ever seen. I will turn this country around, I will create millions of jobs and the economy will come roaring back, and I will take on China and I we will be respected again in the world because I will strangle OPEC and we'll get gas back down to $1.79 a gallon," she said.