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Bachmann visits N.H., slips up on Revolution

By Christopher Rowland and John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / March 13, 2011

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NASHUA — Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann held aloft a tea bag at a GOP fund-raiser in a Nashua hotel yesterday, drawing loud approval for the reference to the Tea Party movement and its inference of revolution.

But at an earlier event in Manchester, N.H., Bachmann, one of the Tea Party’s shining lights in Congress who is considering a run for president, appeared to show major gaps in her grasp of the Revolutionary War.

“You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord,’’ Bachmann told a group of conservative lawmakers and students at a Manchester school. “And you put a marker in the ground and paid with the blood of your ancestors the very first price that had to be paid to make this the most magnificent nation that has ever arisen in the annals of man in 5,000 years of recorded history.’’

The “shot heard ’round the world’’ may have echoed in New Hampshire, but it was, of course, fired in Massachusetts.

The gaffe was reported yesterday on the website RealClearPolitics. According to the site, Bachmann, later in the same speech, referenced the battles a second time without correcting her error.

The remark demonstrated a surprising lack of command of the basic facts of the historic events from which the Tea Party movement derives its name and is likely to go down as one of the bigger missteps of the early primary season.

“Honestly, when she did it, everybody looked around, obviously, and was like ‘uh oh,’ but she carries herself in such a professional way — they’re all legislators in that room, and every single one of them has made the exact same mistake, maybe not on the same topic,’’ said Andrew Hemingway, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, which organized the event, in a phone interview. “When you’re speaking publicly that much, you’re going to make mistakes and say, ‘I know better.’ ’’

Bachmann is touring the country and testing the idea of running for president. With her strong conservative views and sharp one-liners, she has gained a big following around the country. A number of people from Massachusetts drove to Nashua for the later fund-raising event.

“We see you on Fox all the time! Keep up the good work!’’ called out Valerie Lallos, a retired teacher from Lynnfield, as Bachmann signed autographs after her speech.

“I’m on CNN, too,’’ Bachmann replied.

“But we don’t watch CNN,’’ Lallos said.

In her speech in Nashua, Bachmann slammed Washington culture, mocked President Obama and Democrats, and decried rising deficits and out-of-balance budgets.

“The real problem are the arrogant elites in D.C.,’’ she said to the approving crowd. “The ultimate example of arrogance is ObamaCare.’’

Bachmann was disrupted halfway through her remarks by a group of St. Michael’s College students who produced small signs that read, “End AIDS waiting lists’’ and began chanting.

They were escorted out.

Bachmann’s star power drew heavy media attention in New Hampshire, easily outshining recent visits by former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

“Her values, principles, and what she has put forward as an agenda is definitely something we would like to see,’’ said Hemingway in the phone interview. “She’s a very intelligent, very experienced leader that would be a very interesting candidate.’’

But GOP state chairman Jack Kimball said at the Nashua event that if Bachmann decides to run, she will have to join other candidates on the circuit of town hall meetings and visits to diners.

“Any candidate who comes here and doesn’t expect to do that, they have a problem,’’ he said.