COLUMBIA, South Carolina Tea Party activist and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann on Saturday defended moves by fellow Republicans in Wisconsin to reduce state union bargaining power.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has sparked mass protests in the state this week with a proposal to cut state employee benefits and roll back public union collective bargaining rights.
"Don't let anyone tell you that the government workers in Wisconsin are losing their collective bargaining rights over wages," Bachmann said in a speech to a South Carolina Republican women's group.
"They are not. They are retaining them. It's their collective bargaining right over their benefits."
"It isn't that these unions are bad or evil, it's just that we've got to get real about what we can and cannot afford," she said.
Bachmann, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, also said she was making a point of going to states with early presidential primaries.
One such state is South Carolina, which she called "a GOP paradise."
Bachmann said the 2012 elections are an opportunity to "end this nonsense, to end the travesty that could be our future and to once and for all be done with socialized medicine. This is a big, big project. I am in for this project, and that's why I'm going to the early primary states."
(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Jerry Norton)