Perhaps taking an implicit shot at Tim Pawlenty, Minn. Rep. Michele Bachmann tells Iowans in a television commerical that will blanket Iowa beginning today that she can be the “unifying choice” that can beat President Obama in 2012. Those words are written in text at the end of an advertisement that will run in Iowa today.
Pawlenty has tried to pitch himself as the Republican candidate who can unify the Republican Party (read: be the least offensive to all segments of the party) to take on Obama in the general.
Bachmann, though, if she does unify the Republican Party, will not do so in a way that is least offensive to all of its wings. Rather, Bachmann will most likely unify the party by being a galvanizing force.
Whereas Pawlenty has been criticized for not generating enthusiasm, Bachmann has been criticized for having too much of it.
Yesterday, the co-chair of Pawlenty’s campaign Vin Weber made headlines when he told The Hill that Bachmann’s success was due in part because of her sex-appeal. Weber immediately apologized for those comments and said he was not speaking on behalf of the Pawlenty campaign.
Bachmann has been attacked by the left, who have gone after her husband for his stances and comments deaing with gay and lesbian issues. They have even gone after the way in which she adopted and raised some of her foster children and cited her lack of executive experience.
Despite it all, Bachmann has seen a surge of support in polls, even climbing to second place in New Hampshire behind frontrunner Mitt Romney, who holds a commanding lead in New Hampshire, in mutliple polls released last week, a state thought to be inhospitable to a social conservative like her.
Part of the reason, contrary to what Weber may have asserted, is her compelling biography.
Another reason is she has been right on most of the issues conservatives care about.
The commercial skillfully highlights both of these aspects.
First, the commericial is biographical and highlights her Iowa roots: “As a descendant of generations of Iowans, I was born and raised in Waterloo.”
It also highlights her compelling personal story before she came to Washington: “As a mom of five, a foster parent, and a former tax lawyer, and now a small business job creator, I know that we can’t keep spending money that we don’t have.”
More importantly, it hits on issues that will be dear to conservatives in Iowa and that are relevant right now: “…I fought against the wasteful bailout, against the stimulus. I will not vote to increase the debt ceiling.”
As a member of Congress, Bachmann has advantages other candidates do not have because she can vote against or for issues while they are playing out whereas other candidates who are not in office can only comment on such issues.
Further, these ads signal that Bachmann is serious about the Ames Straw Poll in August, which will be a first test of whether she can turn the energy and enthusiasm she is generating into actual votes.
Bachmann’s team is hoping this advertisement will begin an air game that will facilitate her ground game in Iowa.