Bachmann snubs Grinnell College students

Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann suddenly cancelled a speech at Carroll’s Pumpkin Farm in Grinnell, IA last Tuesday to avoid a crowd of about 60 students from Grinnell College.

The students were allowed in to the barn set up for Bachmann’s speech, but fearing a violent protest, her campaign instead invited donors to meet the candidate individually in the Carroll’s house adjacent to the barn. Campaign workers called in local police to control the crowd of students and to prevent them from entering the Pumpkin Farm while Bachmann took a private tour with media representatives.

Dane Haiken ’12 was surprised at Bachmann’s reaction to the presence of students.

“I did bring a sign but I didn’t plan on heckling her,” Haiken said. “She would come in and I would hold up the sign she would keep talking, as any politician would.”

Haiken’s sign—pictured on right—made fun of an earlier misstatement by Bachmann, confusing the hometowns of movie star John Wayne and serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

The students did not come as an organized group. Some held protest signs, but many just came to hear Bachmann speak. The S&B knows of no plans to disrupt her speech.

“Grinnell is known for being a very liberal, politically active campus, but … we’re peaceful,” said Jillian Johnson ’15. “I don’t understand what she was scared of.”

Bachmann told reporters that it was never intended as a public event and was only for donors to right-wing religious group The Family Leader.

However, some students gave token donations to The Family Leader and were not allowed to meet Bachmann. The event was publically advertised as a campaign stop by Bachmann and by the Des Moines Register and Politico.

Iowa and national media are covering the story, including the New York Times, the Des Moines Register and CBS news. The Huffington Post also reposted an S&B video report.

Bachmann has rarely made national news lately—the NYT political new blog “The Caucus” has focused on Romney and the non-candidacies of New Jersey Governor Chris Christy and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Since her rise into top-tier status in polls last month, her popularity has evaporated to a meager 4% in the most recent CBS national poll of likely Republican voters.

Like many students, Haiken came just to meet the famous face of the Tea Party movement.

“Everyone knows she’s a joke at this point and she won’t get back in the race,” Haiken said. “[My sign] was just making fun of her. It’s just silly, which reflects her campaign at this point.”