SAN FRANCISCO -- The Occupy Wall Street movement differs from the tea party movement not only in its political aims but in its sanitation habits, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Thursday.
"The tea party picks up its trash after it has a demonstration, so there's a difference," the Minnesota congresswoman quipped during a question-and-answer period after her speech to the Commonwealth Club of California.
On a more serious note, the two movements have "two different views of how to solve the problems" our nation faces, she said. Occupy activists believe in "government-directed solutions based on temporary gimmicks," she said, while tea partyers believe in "permanent solutions driven from the private sector."
Bachmann certainly cast her lot with the latter during her speech on "The Revival of American Competitiveness," delivered to a capacity crowd of 250. Tickets had sold out earlier Thursday, club officials said. After the speech, Bachmann was headed to a pair of Bay Area fundraisers - including one in Napa - as well as a tele-town-hall with supporters. She'll be back in the early-caucus state of Iowa for the weekend.
A conservative firebrand in a liberal lion's den, Bachmann -- now trailing badly in national polls -- delivered her speech without any interruptions, and there were no protesters outside.
In her speech, Bachmann praised the late Apple cofounder, CEO and Chairman Steve Jobs as "an icon who represented the greatest of competitiveness the ideal at its best," and said it's up to public officials to create an atmosphere that nurtures that spirit in the next generation.
That means improving education, particularly in math and science. Bachmann said she would abolish the U.S. Department of Education and repeal the No Child Left Behind law to give states the money and latitude they need to look after their own schools.
Fostering innovation and competition also requires reforming employment law, and Bachmann said the National Labor Relations Board must be prevented from costing the nation jobs.
She called for doing away with extensive, costly federal regulations that stifle investment and production; rolling back the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to deal only with international and interstate issues, and letting states do their own environmental stewardship; repealing the health care and financial-sector reforms enacted in recent years; and stricter enforcement of immigration laws to prevent taxpayers from bearing the burden of those who have come here illegally.
She cited America's travel to the moon, mapping of the human genome and development of nuclear energy and the Internet as examples of the nation's ability to overcome hurdles and advance. During a brief press availability after the speech, Bachmann acknowledged all of those came about as a result of government research, but she said government must not then displace the private sector's "proprietary function."
Bachmann said "the world is a better place" with the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and hopes the regime that replaces him will be a good partner with the United States. But she still believes U.S. involvement in the fighting there was a mistake because there was "not a clearly stated national interest."
She also reiterated her belief that Iraq and Libya should reimburse the United States for its costs in their liberations. "These are not poor nations," she said, and can pay with oil revenues over time.