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Protesters hijack Bachmann pumpkin farm event

Michelle Bachmann
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 23, 2011. AP

Updated 9:15 a.m. ET

GRINNELL, Iowa - Rep. Michele Bachmann cut short a visit to a pumpkin farm here Tuesday evening after a group of placard-carrying college students appeared poised to disrupt the campaign event. Local police were called, but Bachmann's presidential campaign staff helped her avoid a confrontation with the roughly 60 students from Grinnell College, a private institution known for its liberal bent.

The Minnesota Republican was attending a fundraiser with members of the Family Leader, a faith-based group associated with Focus on the Family. She was scheduled to speak in a barn on a privately owned pumpkin farm when the group of students arrived. They reported hearing of the event from an email from the Campus Democrats, as well as through Facebook and other social media.

The students joined the crowd in the barn waiting for Bachmann to speak, while the lawmaker's staff huddled, apparently concerned about the protestors, who carried signs saying, "Have my gaybies" and "My body, my choice" and "Female Gay Student 99%, where's my future?" The police arrived and cordoned off an area outside the barn where the Grinnell students were made to stand.

An hour and a half after the event was scheduled to begin, Bachmann came out of the nearby house, took a quick tour of the farm, fed some goats and fielded a couple questions from reporters about why her speech was canceled. She said the event was supposed to be private and that she wanted to be able to talk with the people who had paid to be part of the $25-a-head fundraiser.

Bachmann then walked to a van, waving to the students as some of them yelled to her. Some of the students said afterward that they were disappointed not to get a chance to hear her speak, and that they were not planning to disrupt the event. Student Jillian Johnson said, "Grinnell is known for having peaceful, politically active, liberal-leaning students. I don't understand what she was scared of."

Danny Carroll, the farm owner, said, "We had some very special friends and guests who were invited specifically for this fundraiser, and we wanted out of consideration for those guests to make sure that they had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Congresswoman Bachmann.

Special section: Campaign 2012