SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Elvis blared from loudspeakers as Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann emerged from her campaign bus here Tuesday.
So much in politics is theater and, in theater, music matters. But how can any musical choice that involves The King go wrong?
It only can if -- as Bachmann did -- you play an Elvis song as a birthday tribute. "Before we get started," Bachmann told her audience, at the Beacon, a local eatery, "let's say 'happy birthday' to him."
One teeny-tiny problem: Tuesday was the 34th anniversary of Elvis' death.
No one who had come to Tuesday's Bachmann rally cared about the minor gaffe.
(Just as confusing the birthplace of serial killer John Wayne Gacy with that of John Wayne did not slow Bachmann's rise to become one of the top contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. Neither did it matter that the U.S. representative from Minnesota previously had told people in New Hampshire that their state, not neighboring Massachusetts, was where the first shots were fired in the American Revolution.)
Those who came to the rally Tuesday did so to hear Bachmann blast President Barack Obama, a Democrat -- and she did. They had come to hear her tear into Washington for spending too much of Americans' hard-earned money -- and she did.
Bachmann also danced on the stage with an older gentleman who twirled the 55-year-old congresswoman not once or twice but three times.
(Dead or not, Elvis does get people to move their feet.)
After Bachmann dished out some political red meat -- and ordered up a burger and fries from the Beacon -- she took a few questions from reporters. By then, someone had told her that Tuesday was the anniversary of Elvis' death -- not of his birth.
"As far as we're concerned, he's still alive," Bachmann said. "Alive in our hearts."
Does the gaffe matter?
"Everybody does utter gaffes," Winthrop University political scientist and pollster Scott Huffmon said, noting then-candidate Obama's reference to the 57 -- not 50 -- United States. "If your opponent makes a gaffe, it's a clear sign that he or she is an idiot. If your candidate makes a gaffe, it's simply a sign that he or she is human and gets tongue tied sometimes.
"That said, while Bachmann's gaffes will do nothing to discourage her faithful, they will give serious pause to those undecided Republicans who are deciding among their party's potential candidates and would absolutely become fodder for Democratic attacks should she win the nomination."
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