The queen of the Tea Party knows how to deliver a stump speech, and the more than 200 people who turned out to hear Michele Bachmann in person Wednesday at the Ala Moana Hotel were not disappointed.

Organized by the free-market “think tank” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and attracting a good many local Republicans, Bachmann charged her supporters to rise up and fight for the foundations of the nation: inalienable rights of life and liberty that can’t be touched by the government.

“The Tea Party movement as I define it is a rejection of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda,” she said. “You are the Tea Party … It’s a broad swath of America — it’s huge! It’s in every region not just north and south but every part of the United States.”

Whether the Tea Party is growing in Hawaii is presently debatable. The Democratic Party of Hawaii controls nearly every major elective office in the state, after all. But Civil Beat polls of likely voters last year found about 10 percent identified themselves as members of the Tea Party.

In attendance at the talk by Bachmann — who is in her third term representing Minnesota, chairwoman of the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House and a possible candidate for president or vice president in 2012 — were perennial political GOP losers like Cam Cavasso and Adrienne King.

The only significant Tea Party candidate to win elective office here is Tom Berg, the Honolulu City Councilman who won a special election with a small plurality of the vote. And Council races are nonpartisan.

(Berg told Civil Beat’s Inside Honolulu Wednesday, “I want a mental affair with her … I want to meet her. Even just 10 seconds with her to get my photo taken.” Berg was indeed in the audience at Ala Moana Hotel, though we cannot confirm he and Bachmann had a “mental” affair.)

We can report that Bachmann believes the Tea Party is brewing in Hawaii.

“There is a new buzz, a new energy that I am thrilled about,” she told the faithful. “I see the smoke and embers coming from Hawaii. I want to leave you with the expression to fan the flame of liberty and freedom that you are fostering here in Hawaii. I feel it can burst into a bonfire of liberty and free enterprise and you can change your state in the future.”

Bachmann than threw out chunk after chunk of red meat that was consumed like chum in a shark tank:

• “The Declaration of Independence gave us our mission statement. It says we are created, that there is a creator who began the United States, not government, that gave us our inalienable rights. … These are untouchable and government can have nothing to do with them. … Life and liberty are not a license to hedonism. It means we have the right to keep the fruits of our labors.”

• “The government thinks your only job is to provide them with revenue. It’s a complete shift from the Founders, who in 2011 would be absolutely mortified.”

• “I did not wear brown clothes to be Debbie Downer today, but it’s time to tell the American people about the mess the president inherited and the choices he is making. He is not evil; he’s just making the wrong decisions and he is taking the country down.”

• “We as a nation began as a miracle … We are the indispensable nation for the world. Whether France wants to admit it or not, they are thrilled that there is a United States. Germany too. We have been a great blessing to the world. We have used power for good. We were the first country to respond to the earthquake in Haiti … the tsunami in Thailand.”

(Note to Civil Beat Department of Fact Checks: Let’s pass on this one, shall we? Although it’s at least worth noting that former Clinton Administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright coined the term “indispensable nation.”)

(UPDATE: After this article was posted, a Civil Beat reader informed us that the phrase was coined by historian James Chace. A Wikipedia article supports that contention, though it also credits Albright for using the phrase widely. Therefore, Chad Blair concludes that Chad Blair’s claim is “Barely True” and damn near “False.”)

• “Of course we are flawed — we are sinners saved by grace. But we continue to reinvent a better mousetrap and try to make up for errors we have made in the past.”

Despite her partisan rhetoric, a key message from Bachmann was a call to put aside divisions and unite to work for the betterment of the country.

The chief ills, in her view, are an out-on-control national deficit and debt, insolvent systems for Social Security and Medicare and the health-care reform law passed last year — the latter, she predicted, would be the defining issue of the 2012 presidential election.

Here Today, Gone To Maui

Bachmann received a standing ovation, took some questions and then left to address a Tea Party group in Kahului. Befitting someone of her stature — i.e., someone a lot of people don’t like in the Age Of Gabrielle Giffords — the Honolulu Police Department provided undercover security. (They were hard to miss — five big guys wearing earpieces).

I’ve seen and heard a lot of politicians in my day from all levels of government, and Michele Bachmann — in spite of the ridicule she has received in the media and blogosphere, including her counter-counter response to President Obama’s recent State of the Union address — is someone to keep an eye on.

The audience was clearly inspired by Bachmann’s speech, and a table outside sold Tea Party T-shirts and asked folks to register with the party.

While Sarah Palin may be able to command headlines with a well-placed tweet or Facebook post, all the while keeping reporters at arm’s length, Bachmann seems quite comfortable talking about budget numbers and other complicated matters. Sure, she’s made her share of gaffes; but she seems quite capable of learning from them.

(It was all the more disappointing that Bachmann declined to speak with reporters after her talk, although her handlers backed off early ground rules that prohibited recording her speech and shooting video.)

The one tough question she received came from a military veteran, who asked why her office was looking at ways to cut veterans’ benefits. Bachmann, to her credit, answered directly, saying that every part of the national budget should be examined. She said her office phones had been ringing off the hook from angry veterans, and she said was open to other options concerning the benefits.

“But we need to be willing to start the conversation,” she said.

While Bachmann was coy about whether she would seek higher office, she says she has been visiting battleground states like Iowa (where she was born) to raise awareness. The current GOP field — a vague blandess of white males — could benefit from a spark like Bachmann.

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