LYNCHBURG, Va. — Michele Bachmann on Wednesday told Christian students at Liberty University in Virginia "don't settle" for easy personal and political choices in life.
During a half-hour address to some 10,000 students at Liberty's weekly campus-wide convocation, she briefly tied a message mostly about personal values and responsibility to an appeal to reject President Barack Obama's agenda, including his health care reforms.
She made no mention of her GOP primary rivals in a talk laced with Scripture that took on the tone of a sermon.
Badly trailing front-runners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney and struggling in national polls, Bachmann sought a breakout moment with her base of support – Christian conservatives.
Liberty's chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr., said Bachmann won a recent student straw poll over the GOP field, largely because of her evangelical roots.
Bachmann evoked a few standing ovations and an occasional amen in speaking of her conversion to Christianity and how she would set her alarm for 5 a.m. as a teen so she could wake and read the Bible.
"Even though I hadn't been a drinker, even though I never did drugs, ... even though I hadn't been chasing around, it didn't matter. I was a sinner," she said. "I radically abandoned myself to Jesus Christ."
She called the issue of abortion "the watershed issue of our time," noting that she had five children of her own and that she and her husband, Marcus, who joined her onstage had taken in 23 foster children. She used it to pivot into a broadside against Obama's health care reforms.
"Obamacare is the first time in the history of our nation that we have taxpayer-subsidized abortions," she said. "When it comes to Obamacare – and I have been involved in this fight for some time now – I will tell you, unless we repeal (it) in 2012, we will have socialized medicine for the United States' future."
And the applause lines kept coming.
The leader of the House's Tea Party Caucus said conservatives have to stand against federal takeovers of U.S. industries, including the automotive, banking and insurance industries the government bailed out during the recession.
"And we can't settle when it comes to America standing up for our greatest ally in the world, Israel," Bachmann said.
The conservative congresswoman also signaled that she plans to be "the comeback kid" in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Former president Bill Clinton earned the same label after making a comeback in the wake of controversy to finish in second place in the 1992 New Hampshire primary.
The "don't settle" theme has become the dominant message of Bachmann's campaign in recent days. She hit it hard in appearances in Iowa on Monday.