Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a firebrand conservative who has been on the frontlines of the Tea Party movement, formally kicked off her presidential campaign in Waterloo, Iowa today.
The town is not only significant because it was where Bachmann was born. Those Iowa roots will certainly give her an advantage as she tells the story of her compelling life that begins in Iowa, an Iowa-specific narrative that other candidates will lack.
“I often say everything I needed to learn in life, I learned in Iowa,” Bachmann said. “These Iowa roots and my faith in God guide me today. And I know what it means to be from Iowa. I know what we value here.”
The name of the town is also significant because Bachmann’s presidential campaign will depend, in part, on how she finishes in the Ames Straw Poll in the summer and the Iowa Caucus in February.
Should she falter in the Straw Poll or not win the Iowa Caucus, her campaign will most likely be finished.
Bachmann can very well win the Caucus.
It seems like a significant possibility given that a recent poll commissioned by The Des Moines Register found her tied with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has indicated he will not leave a big footprint in Iowa. The poll, which surveyed 400 likely caucus attendees and left out other potential candidates such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, gave Bachmann’s campaign added momentum after her debate performance in New Hampshire that exceeded expectations.
“I want to bring a voice, your voice, to the White House, just as brought your voice to the halls of Congress,” Bachmann said.
Bachmann has rhetorically ripped into Obama and throws the conservative base the red meat that they are craving for this period. As a legislator in Washington, she can introduce bills – such as “The Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act” – and hold the line and be a thorn in the side of the GOP establishment on the debt ceiling negotiations, much to the chagrin of the Washington establishment and to the delight of her conservative base.
“Mr. President, your policies haven’t worked; spending our way out of this recession hasn’t worked,” Bachmann said. “The people … are longing for a President who will listen to them, who will lead from the front, and not from behind.”
In addition to her opposition to ObamaCare, Bachmann has stridently been against the GOP and Obama on the debt, and she echoed concerns about the debt during her announcements saying as government gets bigger, “it gets tougher to pass on our values” to the younger generation.”
“It’s impossible to turn the clock back,” Bachmann said, referring to an America less in debt.
But, she said that “Americans still have that same spirit” if the government stop spending our money and thinking they could make everyone healthier, in reference to ObamaCare.
Bachmann told the audience of the struggles she went through growing up.
“My early days were difficult as they were for many Americans, especially during the time when my mother struggled to raise us after divorce,” Bachmann said. “But we made our own way. We depended on our neighbors and ourselves and not our government for help.”
Bachmann told the audience that she was a Democrat and converted to becoming a Republican while Jimmy Carter was President. She said, though, that neither her Democrat nor Republican family members would approve of the deficit spending in Washington.
The one question her critics will levy on her will be her lack of significant accomplishments in the legislative arena and executive experience, which was similar to criticisms conservatives levied against President Obama.
In this cycle, though, Bachmann’s positions on the economic and social issues that matter most to conservatives and her history of fighting the stale Washington establishment may trump those concerns.
Further, should Bachmann win the Iowa Caucuses, she will have what other insurgents candidates have lacked. She will have an organization, many of whom come from the top echelon of the professional GOP establishment. In addition, she will be able to raise money from the grassroots at a clip most other candidates would not be able to match, allowing her to keep up with candidates such as Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman who will raise bundles of money from establishment bundlers.
If Iowa does not symbolically serve as Bachmann’s Waterloo, she can slingshot a potential win there all the way to the nomination in a cycle in which conservatives may be looking more to vote with their hearts than their heads.
Bachmann seems well aware of this, urging those in attendance multiple times after the speech to go to the Ames Straw poll and bring their friends and family to it to vote for her.
Her announcement also was a reminder that she has been a thorn in the side of the establishment, as she referenced on multiple occasions how she has been a voice of the people in Washington.
She speaks the language of conservatives. She has been with them on the issues. And her life story is compelling, particularly her references in Iowa.
She said she was an economic conservative, a national security conservative, a social conservative, and also a member of the Tea Party.
These are the reasons she most likely starts as the frontrunner in Iowa. It would be folly for other candidates to underestimate her potential. Unlike other home state candidates who have won in Iowa only to fizzle away later in the process, Bachmann, if she convincingly wins in Iowa, can go the distance.
“It’ll start in Iowa, but we’ll ‘git ‘er’ done,” Bachmann said after the speech.
Bachmann’s campaign will start—or finish — in the state in which she was born.