GRINNELL, Iowa -- Michele Bachmann’s planned stop at a local farm for a speech and fundraiser Tuesday night seemed to stop just short of the plan.
Bachmann toured Carroll's Pumpkin Farm with owner -- and former state representative -- Danny Carroll and his wife, Joy, but did not make scheduled remarks inside a hay loft, which had been outfitted with banners and equipped for television media coverage.
The reason apparently had to do with a group of about 50 students from nearby Grinnell College -- and at least one from the University of Iowa -- who showed up unannounced. They were alerted to the event by an email from campus Democrats, students said. One carried a sign with the word "My" written large enough to encompass two lines followed by "Body" and "Choice," or "My body, my choice" -- a clear counter to Bachmann’s anti-abortion-rights views.
“We had some very special friends and guests, who were invited specifically for this fundraiser," Carroll said, "and we wanted, out of consideration for those guests, that they had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Congresswoman Bachmann.”
The campaign event was billed as a fundraiser for a Christian advocacy group called, The Family Leader, which is affiliated with the Colorado-based organization Focus on the Family, and issued a controversial anti-gay marriage pledge -- among other things -- earlier this year.
The congresswoman met privately with about 35 supporters inside the farm’s main house.
The Grinnell students milled outside the main house as at least two local policemen and two Poweshiek County deputies arrived and cordoned the group with yellow tape. When Bachmann emerged from the house, she took a brief tour of the farm and stopped to admire baby goats before holding a press conference.
Asked by reporters why she did not visit the hay loft and meet with the students, Bachmann insisted the event was private and held at the discretion of her hosts.
"I think, if I understood correctly, that the college students just came on their own and asked if they could come on the property,” Bachmann said, “and it would be up to the Carrolls to say.” She added, “They said that they welcomed them on their farm and allowed them on. But this was never intended to be a big, public event.”
Some of the students, in order to get in, said they purchased tickets to hear Bachmann's speech. At least four students held signs. Some read: "Female Gay Student 99%. Where's My Future?” (99% is in reference to the “Occupy Wall St. Movement,” which refers to itself as the 99% of the population without a say); "John Wayne Quincy Adams --- Our Greatest Forefather"; and "Pray BACK The Gay.”
"I think everyone came in with an open mind and were willing to be pretty civil," said Abby Stevens, one of the Grinnell students.
Jillian Johnson, another student, said, “I was just hoping to hear her speak, and just sort of hear a lot of her positions.” She added, “It’s just frustrating that a group of college students could drive away someone who’s running for president. I don’t really know what outcome they were expecting. Grinnell’s known for being an extremely liberal, politically active, although very peaceful school.”
As Bachmann walked to her van, she looked over at the students assembled behind the cordon.
“Bye!” she shouted, with a wave and a smile.