After Obama and the GOP response, Bachmann took a turn in the media spotlight. Some in the Tea Party ranks were not pleased.
WASHINGTON - In the first-ever Tea Party rebuttal to a State of the Union Address, Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann blasted President Obama over government spending "unlike anything we have seen in the history of our country."
In what some saw as dueling rebuttals, the media focus on Bachmann's address threatened to eclipse the official GOP response delivered by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
While Bachmann's response was originally slated to be webcast only by the Tea Party Express, CNN decided to carry her remarks in their entirety after Ryan was done. Though Bachmann tried to tamp down reports that she was delivering an alternative GOP response, there were signs of increasing friction over her speech, including dissension within Tea Party ranks, where there is resistance to the idea of Bachmann as a national spokeswoman.
"They don't like it that Michele Bachmann is speaking on behalf of the Tea Party," said Toni Backdahl, president of the Tea Party of Minnesota, one of several Tea Party factions in the state.
Democrats appeared delighted, with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) distributing copies of a Fox News report titled "Unusual Bachmann Rebuttal Could Scramble GOP Message on Obama Address."
Republicans, meanwhile, seemed ambivalent. House GOP Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia downplayed Bachmann's plans, saying all 535 members of the House and Senate would have their own opinions about Obama's speech.
Hours before the State of the Union, the conservative website pajamasmedia.com reported that Bachmann was not being allowed to deliver her rebuttal from the Capitol Hill Club, which serves as the GOP's nerve center near the Capitol.
Bachmann's office said her speech was being moved to the National Press Club instead.
In her rebuttal, the three-term congresswoman and potential presidential candidate focused on the Obama administration's record of spending to kick-start the stagnant economy. "After the $700 billion bailout, the trillion-dollar stimulus and the massive budget bill with over 9,000 earmarks that the president signed, many of you implored Washington to please stop spending money we don't have," said Bachmann, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus. "But, instead of cutting, we saw an unprecedented explosion of government spending and debt."
Kevin Diaz is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau.
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