Waterloo, Iowa– Michele Bachmann returned to her birthplace of Waterloo on Sunday for a homecoming celebration on the eve of her official campaign announcement.
Taking the stage to Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” before hundreds of supporters, the three-term congresswoman had reason for a little bounce in her step — a new Des Moines Register poll has her neck in neck with Mitt Romney atop the Republican field.
The poll shows that 22% of likely caucus voters would support Bachmann, putting her just one percentage point behind Romney who garnered 23% support.
Bachmann’s surge in the polls and her strong performance at the New Hampshire Republican debate earlier this month make her the candidate to watch and one of the conservative favorites for the primary nod.
“She’s one of us. She’s lived the same lives many of us have lived,” said David Alderman of Waterloo. “I think she has that ‘it’ factor. I like what she stands for and I think I can easily get behind her.”
Iowa figures to be a crucial state for Bachmann on her path to a primary victory. In a preview of her announcement speech, the congresswoman reminisced about her childhood in Waterloo and her roots in the community (complete with frequent trips to Dairy Queen and slices of Wonderbread).
“Everything I needed to know I learned in Iowa,” said Bachmann to a room of applause. “The one thing I want you to know here tonight in Waterloo is my heart. And my heart is for you.”
After announcing in Iowa on Monday, Bachmann will continue on to New Hampshire and South Carolina. She plans on returning at the end of the week for a bus tour throughout the state.