Rep. Bachmann warns: Don't neglect social issues

In her opening speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) urged Republicans not to neglect social conservatives in 2012.

The Tea Party favorite and rumored 2012 presidential contender said for the party to win back the Senate and the White House next year, it will have to avoid division between fiscal and social conservatives, adding that the GOP has too many times before snatched "defeat from the jaws of victory."

"As important as these distressing economic concerns are, we would be wise to recall that there are other threats that loom as well," Bachmann said, urging the crowd to "not forget that for our conservative coalition to be victorious in 2012, it will take every one of us and then some, pulling together to bring together the three legs of the conservative stool."

Bachmann's comments were notable given the cloud of controversy that still lingers over this year's conference. Several leading conservative groups and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) are boycotting the event thanks to the participation of GOProud, a gay conservative group.

Bachmann appealed for Republicans to bring together fiscal conservatives, national security-minded conservatives and social conservatives ahead of the next cycle.

"We cannot shun each other in 2012," she said. "The structural integrity and the political appeal is not only rooted in this fiscal discipline but the social values and the philosophy of peace through strength."

Bachmann didn't drop any new hints about her 2012 ambitions in her speech, but she did argue that the Tea Party is about more than just fiscal discipline and reducing the deficit, saying while those elements are "vitally important, I strongly disagree that that's all there is."

The Republican used her opening speech to lambaste the Obama administration for driving the nation toward "socialism," and she said repealing the healthcare law is the "driving motivation of my life."

"We have seen President Obama usher in socialism under his watch over the last two years," she said.

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