NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Thursday that America needs a miracle to recover its economic footing and retain its position as leader of the world.

“This is probably the most crucial election. I think it’s a last chance election,” she told about 300 people attending a town hall meeting. “We need a miracle right now. But I always believe there is a God big enough to give us that miracle.”

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Bachmann, who criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the recovery from the Great Recession and vowed to shrink the size of the federal government, said just electing another Republican won’t help — she’s the Republican who will make the difference.

“You can put a Republican in there to manage big government, but you’re not going to have America as the prosperous big dog in the world again if you do that.”

She vowed to go to Washington to cut federal spending and get the nation’s economic house in order.

“We’re going to be turning a lot of lights off and locking a lot of doors in Washington, D.C.,” the Minnesota Republican said.

Bachmann, who won the Iowa straw poll earlier this month, has been campaigning frequently in South Carolina, site of the first GOP primary in the South.

Bachmann said she will not preside over any more government stimulus programs or bailouts for big corporations.

“The president has failed on unemployment,” Bachmann said. “After the president passed the stimulus we saw millions of jobs in the private sector go away.”

At the same time, she said, “hundreds of thousands” of government jobs were added. Those federal jobs, she said, have average wages and benefits of $123,000 while the average for private sector jobs is $61,000.

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Bachmann spoke at a meeting hosted by Republican Rep. Tim Scott, a South Carolina freshman, who is a tea party favorite. Scott has not yet endorsed a candidate for president.

Halfway through the meeting, Gov. Nikki Haley made an unexpected appearance and asked Bachmann about the National Labor Relations Board, which has filed a complaint against Boeing. The aircraft maker recently opened a $750 million plant in North Charleston, South Carolina’s largest industrial investment.

The NLRB alleges the plant was built in South Carolina, a right to work state, to avoid unionized labor in Washington state.

“I would take your phone call when you call me,” Bachmann told the governor. “Gov. Haley has tried desperately to get the attention of the administration not only on health care and in dealing with illegal immigration. I would take your phone calls.”

Bachmann also said she would only appoint pro-growth members to the NLRB.

Asked about immigration, Bachmann said the nation needs to secure the nation’s southern border.

“I would build the barrier or fence. Every mile, every yard, every inch of that southern border needs to be covered,” she said.

She said her position is not anti-Hispanic.

“We are a loving compassionate people in the United States. We also believe our borders need to be secured. When you have unemployment over 9 percent, why would you not secure your borders?” she asked.

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