Before signing copies of her new book in Rock Hill on Friday, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., paused to take a shot at Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich.
His comment earlier in the day about life beginning at "implantation" is "highly troubling," said Bachmann, co-sponsor of the proposed Life at Conception Act, which declares that life begins at "fertilization, cloning or other moment at which an individual comes into being."
"Life begins at conception," she told reporters at the Manchester Village Books-a-Million. "We can't have a nominee who stands for anything other than life."
Banking on what she called new momentum after slipping in the polls, Bachmann stopped in Rock Hill to promote her memoir and court voters as the first Republican primary approaches.
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The 55-year-old congresswoman vowed to fight on.
With embattled candidate Herman Cain's campaign on the ropes and competitors Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum polling low, Bachmann trained her sights on the two front-runners.
Mitt Romney and Gingrich are "inconsistent," she said.
In an interview this week with The Herald, she called Gingrich the "grandfather of Obamacare" and said he supports "a one-world government."
Romney, she said, is "the one who's been for abortion and same-sex marriage."
Bachmann declined to comment on whether Cain, who was also in Rock Hill on Friday, should continue his campaign amid allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity.
Of the eight contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, Bachmann said she's the one who has stood firm.
"I am the consistent one," she said. "I am not a chameleon.
"I will be the strongest competitor that Barack Obama can have."
After peaking at 14 percent in one S.C. poll in August, Bachmann's fallen to less than 4 percent according to an average by Real Clear Politics. The latest Gallup poll has her at 5 percent nationally behind Romney's 20 percent and Gingrich's 19 percent.
Bachmann blamed that on the media.
"The more the media focus on a candidate, that drives the polls," she said.
Perhaps in part, said Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop University political science professor. But when Bachmann's poll numbers surged "the media attention also shed some light on things some voters didn't like as much," such as reports that her husband's Christian counseling business focused on turning homosexuals straight.
She's hanging her hopes on the first GOP caucus scheduled for Jan. 3 in Iowa, Huffmon said.
"She's struggling to get numbers that would keep her relevant on the national level," he said.
It's a "long-shot strategy," Huffmon said, but not impossible.
Given that polls have shot up and down like Wall Street, Bachmann said she's poised for a comeback.
She continues to play up her religious background to attract Christian evangelicals, a topic she elaborates on in her memoir.
Fewer than 100 people lined up for Friday's book signing. The attendance was a stark contrast to Bachmann's June visit to Rock Hill, which drew a crowd of 1,000.
Bachmann spent about an hour Friday chatting, posing for pictures and signing copies of "Core of Conviction: My Story."
The book, she said, offers voters an "unfiltered, 3D view" of her life.
To bounce back, Bachmann will have to win voters like Clover resident Beth Beaty.
Beaty, who took her 14-year-old son Kenny to both Cain's and Bachmann's events Friday, likes Bachmann's personality and respects her intelligence. But Beaty expects to vote for Gingrich in the South Carolina Republican primary on Jan. 21.
"He has done it all and seen it all," Beaty said. "He's so wise."
Some who came to the bookstore were curious.
Vinita Maigur, 16, is too young to vote, but she read Bachmann's book and is encouraged to see a woman running for president.
"It's amazing," Maigur said. "She's really inspiring."
Also in line were unwavering supporters who said they appreciate Bachmann's conviction.
"I like that she's a woman of faith." Walter McCaslin said. "She's got an excellent chance if Christians vote on Christian principles."