OSCEOLA, Iowa -- Returning to a tried and true campaign venue, Michele Bachmann visited the Calvary Bible Church on Sunday in this rural Iowa town, where she told an audience of about 100 worshipers that she would lead the nation in prayer if elected president.
During a question and answer session, Calvary Pastor Matt Floyd asked the U.S. representative from Minnesota whether she would lead the nation in prayer like President Franklin D. Roosevelt did when allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France in World War II.
"Yes, I think a president doesn't lose their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression and religious worship," Bachmann said. But she also noted that she subscribes to the amendment's protection of religious choices.
"Our nation, wisely, does not have an established national church," she said. "That's what our founders didn't want. They were right to stand for religious liberty." And in an apparent nod to the recent controversy over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, Bachmann added, "We don't demand that any president have a certain faith and we don't demand that people in this country go and worship at a certain church."
Bachmann has developed a strong base of support among the evangelical community, especially in Iowa, where religious conservatives dominate the first-in-the-nation caucus and are vital to Bachmann's hopes of resuscitating her struggling campaign. The most recent setback was the abrupt resignations of staffers in New Hampshire, the first primary state.
Although today's speech was not as fiery as some in her past, she touched on several of the same themes, including her personal story. She described her great-grandparents the immigration from Norway, the devastating divorce of her parents when she was 12, and her experience becoming a born-again Christian at age 16.
Her conservative views took hold at Minnesota's Winona State University, where she was introduced to the ideas of the influential evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer through a film series he produced called How Shall We Then Live?
"Dr. Schaeffer said that the life issue -- abortion -- is the watershed issue of our time," Bachmann told the congregation. "And how people determine their view on the issue of life will determine how they view so many other issues. And that struck a chord."
Her speech largely steered clear of political rhetoric, although she responded when Floyd asked about her position toward Israel. "I think it's absolutely vital that we support Israel and I've been very concerned about the actions of the current president," Bachmann said.