Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann served as an opening act as the Tea Party Patriots hosted a fifth anniversary party in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
In a speech filled with digs at President Obama and other Democratic leaders, Bachmann drew laughter and applause from a less-than-packed ballroom at a Capitol Hill hotel this morning.
“The tea party movement at its core is an intellectual movement,” Bachmann said. “These are ideas that I would put up against any ideas in the world.”
The group hosted its first mass protest on Feb. 27, 2009, when supporters in 30 cities rallied for reductions in government spending.
Bachmann helped usher the movement onto the national stage. She founded the House Tea Party Caucus in 2010 and she gave the first tea party response to the State of the Union address in 2011. Her speech focused on the Affordable Care Act and criticism of Obama --issues that dominate the tea party's agenda to this day.
When the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2010, ending two years of full Democratic control of Congress and the White House, the movement’s influence was unleashed.
With budgets facing heightened scrutiny in Congress, threats of a government shutdown over spending bills finally gave way to an actual shutdown last October, spurred on by opposition to the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care law.
Facing several campaign finance probes, Bachmann plans to leave Congress at the end of the year. But she urged the Tea Party rank-and-file to marshal its resources in to 2014 and 2016 to help conservatives capture control of the U.S. Senate and the White House. She pledged to join them.
“I’m making sure we elect the most conservative people we possibly can who aren’t ashamed of our beliefs, and of our constitution, and of our dedication,” Bachmann said.
“I know that we have the intellectual ballast, I know we have the fortitude and I know we have the energy to make it all happen. It’s up to us. Let’s take the challenge and get it done.”
U.S. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah and Fox News host Sean Hannity are headlining the daylong event.
Bachmann may have drawn her most spirited crowd response when she jabbed at the Internal Revenue Service, which targeted Tea Party-affiliated groups for extra scrutiny before the 2012 election.
“I just had to let you know ahead of time that I can’t stay long because I’m being audited by the IRS,” she joked. “But you’ve been there, done that. You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
Minnesota state Rep. Cindy Pugh, who co-founded the state's Southwest Metro Tea Party Patriots, also spoke at the celebration Thursday.