Potential presidential contender Bachmann backs online education


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Among national sputter over budget cuts to higher-education programs, Michele Bachmann says the Internet is the answer.

“There’s no question that higher education has outstripped costs,” she said. “So I’m really looking forward to exploring new ways of delivering higher education.”

Increasing online education, which she called “relatively free and accessible to almost any student,” is the way to compensate for a loss of funding, she said.

Dressed in a pale yellow suit, the 6th District Minnesota representative addressed an audience of around 100 on Monday in the IMU. Bachmann spoke as part of the Family Leader’s Presidential Lecture Series.

The Waterloo native grew up in Iowa and moved to Minnesota when she was 12. She graduated from Winona State University and then from Oral Roberts University and William and Mary Law School.

She is the first Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota, and she is now among those rumored to vie for a presidential nomination.

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On Monday, Bachmann’s talk focused on her solutions to America’s problems: strengthening national security, upholding family life, and re-establishing a vibrant economy.

She said she’s seen firsthand how devastating taxes can be on businesses and families and that high income taxes especially keep small business from thriving.

“Fine art to know how to turn a profit and not have a business go under,” she said. “Small business are more challenged than they’ve ever been before.”

And that’s where her tag line, “social conservatism is fiscal conservatism,” came in.

Though the mainly Republican crowd supported the phrase, UI sophomore and President of the UI Democrats Margaret Murphy said it could be off-putting on a college campus.

“I would think that saying that to college students wouldn’t be very appealing, because so many students are socially liberal,” she said.

Another major issue discussed was the notion of a traditional family. Bachmann said marriage should be limited to a man and woman.

“Marriage is changing across this country,” Bachmann said.

But as soon as Bachmann began discussing family structures, protesters in the back of the room began shouting over her speech.

UI junior Sammy Pottebaum was among the three protesters in the back, holding a cardboard sign reading “Homosexuality Desensitization.”

“I want to have a family some day,” he said after Bachmann’s speech. “And [Bachmann] saying that marriage is for men and women, that would mean my family wouldn’t be legitimate.”

In addition to the “pro-family” platform, Bachmann stressed the importance of securing U.S. borders against illegal immigrants and said she endorses the construction of a physical wall to deter illegal aliens.

But Terry Dahms, the head of the Johnson County Democrats, said this is a drastic stance to take against a lukewarm issue.

“I think building a wall is ridiculous,” Dahms said. “I think this is not a priority — the most pressing problem is the economy and the budget.”

Several supporters lauded Bachmann’s speech following her visit.

Bill Keettel, the chairman of the Johnson County Republicans, said her eloquence and confidence are politically promising.

“In the history of the United States, it’s been very difficult for a member of the House to get a presidential nomination,” he said. “I think Bachmann has the rhetorical firepower to be an exception.”

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