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Michele Bachmann Hands Out Bachmann Jerseys, Beer

A man wears a Michele Bachmann jersey after meeting the representative at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. Brian Montopoli

Michele Bachmann is making a serious play to win the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The Minnesota Republican representative invited the entire conference - 11,000 attendees - to a meet and greet late Thrusday afternoon. Participants lined up - and the line was long - to get a picture taken with Bachmann, get a Bachmann jersey (they were told they could only have one if they immediately put it on) and a ticket for a free beer in the hotel lobby.

A man poses with Rep. Michele Bachmann at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Brian Montopoli

The move seems geared toward helping Bachmann, who is considering a presidential run, do well in the CPAC straw poll of potential presidential candidates. Conference attendees are asked who they want to see become the Republican nominee; the winner gets favorable press as a candidate who had captured grassroots activists' hearts.

Bachmann is hardly the only potential candidate shopping for votes: One Ron Paul supporter told Hotsheet that after he posted on a Paul forum that he lacked the money to attend the conference, he was sent $330 to make the trip from Austin. And there are rampant rumors that other candidates have paid for candidates to attend to vote for them as well.

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Brian Montopoli is a senior political reporter for You can read more of his posts here.

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