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Bachmann's S.C. visit includes stay at Governor's Mansion

Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's trip to South Carolina included an overnight stay in the Governor's Mansion as she tries to woo endorsements from key Republicans to boost her standing in the Palmetto State.

“I am so impressed with the governor you have put into that office, and I’m extremely proud of her,” Bachmann told a gathering Tuesday morning sponsored by the S.C. Christian Chamber of Commerce.

Gov. Nikki Haley, a rising star in the GOP, said she is not close to endorsing a candidate. She said she has invited all of the Republican candidates to stay at the Governor's Mansion, but Bachmann was the first to accept.

“We sat down and we had a great conversation,” Haley said, speaking to reporters after a meeting of her Cabinet. “We talked about her kids. My kids came in and met her. Michael was there. We sat in the study, and we just talked for a couple of hours. We didn’t talk politics.”

The latest S.C. presidential primary poll, completed Sunday by the New Hampshire-based American Research Group, has Bachmann running third among GOP presidential hopefuls, favored by 13 percent of likely voters in the state’s “first-in-the-South” GOP primary. The winner of the S.C. primary has won the GOP nomination every year since 1980.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the front-runner at 25 percent, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 16 percent. Palin, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008, has not announced if she’s running. Fifteen percent were undecided.

Bachmann’s S.C. support was up 8 percentage points from American Research’s April poll, the second-largest jump by any candidate, trailing Atlanta businessman Herman Cain. Bachmann likely benefited from Mike Huckabee’s decision not to run for president. The former Arkansas governor led all candidates in April in South Carolina with 20 percent.

“What’s good about (Bachmann) is she’s very principled,” said Bob Barnwell, a former Huckabee supporter who attended Bachmann’s speech Tuesday, adding that the Minnesotan is one of his “top three” candidates. “She’s not afraid to get up there and call it like it is. ... A lot of Republicans are afraid to do that. Perhaps they’ve been there too long.”

Last month, North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling showed 27 percent of likely Republican primary voters favored Romney while 9 percent favored Bachmann.

Bachmann, a congresswoman and Tea Party favorite, began her S.C. trip Monday by signing the “Cut, Cap and Balance” pledge in Columbia. The move was seen by many as an attempt to woo the endorsement of influential U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of Greenville. DeMint, another Tea Party favorite, has said he will not support a candidate who does not sign the pledge, which seeks to cut federal spending, cap the budget and pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Bachmann signed the pledge, but only after adding a line about repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.

Tuesday, Bachmann spoke about helping the poor, education and taxes. She called for a new federal tax code that is “very simple, very fair and very flat.”

“Some companies pay a lot of money in tax, while others don’t. It just depends on where the breaks are,” Bachmann said. “I don’t think the federal government’s business is to choose winners and losers in the private sector. They shouldn’t favor one industry over another. Industry should be able to stand on its own. Pay your fair share, just like individuals.”

Bachmann also said she would work to repeal the No Child Left Behind Act, passed under Republican President George W. Bush, which requires states to test students to get federal money. “I don’t see in the Constitution that the federal government has a role to play in education in the states,” she said.

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