Does Bachmann See An Opening?


Carl Cameron of Fox News reports that “Senior insiders to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann say the Republican founder of the House Tea Party caucus is now very likely to run for president.”

It appears that her decision may be strongly influenced by Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump choosing not to run.  Cameron notes an encouraging sign for Bachmann fans: her website has been re-designed to “highlight Team Bachmann rather than Congresswoman Bachmann.”  On this website, you will find no ambiguous talk about “individual mandates.”  While some Republicans want to play Jenga with ObamaCare funding, Bachmann swings at the foundations with a war hammer.  She even issues periodic “Progress Report On Defunding ObamaCare” videos.  Here’s the latest one:

There might be some overlap between Bachmann voters and Herman Cain voters, who would enjoy the competition for their affections.  She has abundant appeal to Mike Huckabee’s social conservative supporters.  She can stand rhetorically with the toughest fiscal conservatives in the race, having dismissed the recent budget agreement as “small ball” when she wanted to play “big ball.” 

On the other hand, Bachmann has appropriated a healthy share of earmarks for her state.  Challenges of hypocrisy or insincerity await anyone who tries to move from Congress to the White House on a platform of uncompromising fiscal conservatism.  It’s hard to offer bold systemic criticism when you’re part of the system.  It’s even harder to be an effective legislator if you fold your arms and stubbornly refuse to sully yourself by participating in the unclean government you dream of cleansing. 

She also hasn’t been in Congress very long, and has developed a fairly thin legislative resume.  Let us never make the mistake of thinking the thin resume of the current President will give any Republican candidate the slightest bit of cover from such criticism.  These are issues Bachmann should be prepared to deal with if she runs.

Of course, she’ll also have to deal with a hostile media, which already despises her, while it won’t begin despising some of her competitors until the Republican primaries are over.  Republican voters often say they are tired of having the media choose their candidates.  Fair enough, but how a candidate handles the media tells us a lot about their ability to reach beyond the GOP base and put together a winning coalition of voters.  Every candidate should understand the presidential stage is like no other.  The spotlights are intense, and there are many sandbags swaying ominously in the darkness overhead, held up by very thin ropes.

A final decision about entering the race is expected from Michele Bachmann by the end of next month.  I suspect the withdrawal of Huckabee and Trump will inspire some potential candidates to announce their intentions sooner, rather than later.