Michele Bachmann Running

All signs are that Michele Bachmann is running for president. What impact will she have on the race?

Fox News politics editor Chris Stirewalt, a family friend, argues convincingly that Michele Bachmann is primed to be the candidate of the hard right.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite and something of a surrogate for Sarah Palin, is getting ready to jump into the presidential contest. Her advisers put out the word on Monday that a run was “very likely” and a D.C.-based consultant tells Power Play that Bachmann associates have been shopping for services. “This is now beyond speculation. They are doing this,” the consultant said.

While Bachmann is a polarizing figure in the party, her candidacy is quite logical. With Mike Huckabee bowing out of the race, Palin showing no outward signs of launching a campaign and Newt Gingrich seeming to burn up on entry into the race, that leaves former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with an almost unobstructed view of the social conservative voters who dominate Iowa’s caucuses.

Bachmann’s candidacy is also helped by the fact that Donald Trump has renewed his contract with NBC and ended the most successful publicity stunt of his career. His appeal had been based on blunt, pungent attacks on President Obama, stock in trade for Bachmann. Plus, she gets similar attention from establishment media outlets that like to bring her on for bearbaiting sessions and then mock her afterwards.

As Bachmann has expanded her national profile and become more outspoken, her chances for reelection to her congressional seat have somewhat dimmed. Redistricting, a prospective romp by President Obama at the top of the ticket and the aversion to confrontation inherent in Minnesotans leaves Bachmann vulnerable to what would surely be a serious effort by Democrats to unseat her.

With two lanes open and trouble brewing in her home district, there’s no reason for Bachmann not to take a run. Plus, she’s from a state neighboring Iowa and has been a longtime congressional ally of conservative hardliner Rep. Steve King from the key western part of the state. Why not give it a try?

Chris doesn’t handicap Bachmann’s chances of winning the nomination, which I consider infinitesimal. But I think he’s right that she’s more appealing than Santorum, hurting him most. He’s right, too, that she makes things a little harder for fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty, who would otherwise be the regional favorite son in Iowa.

But having her in the race might well be helpful to Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Mitch Daniels, and other comparatively mainstream Republicans. If they can resist the lure of moving right to compete for her base, which would backfire, she’ll serve as a lightning rod and make them more appealing to general election voters.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Pawlenty is dead as a contender if he doesn’t do very well in Iowa, and Bachmann stands a good chance of out performing him there.

  2. hey norm says:

    She could win Iowa going away, boot New Hampshire, and possibly win South Carolina. Given that momentum…who knows?
    Maher cracked me up last night when he told Matthews that Bachmann is the choice of Republicans who think Palin is too intellectual.
    This may force Palin’s hand – is there really room in the field for two people who are essentially mirror images of each other?

  3. hey norm says:

    Remember too that T-Paw most likely can’t win Minnesota. Does that ill-will spill over to Iowa? Or the opposite?

  4. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    I dunno. I have to see whether she can beat the girl from Cherry Hill in the debate on the Constitution before I can even give her the status of gag candidate. Any news on whether she’s up to the challenge?

  5. Tano says:

    . If they can resist the lure of moving right to compete for her base,

    The effect she will have is to move the process, and the party to the right. Not because the others will compete with her for her base, but because she will have some considerable power to define the debate, to emphasize certain issues and positions that all the candidates will have to respond to.
    The undecided centrists (thats a relative term, of course, referring to the center of the GOP in this case) are prone to persuasion – thats why they are currently undecided. Such people often gravitate toward candidates who present a clear, unambiguous platform, one that is “strong” in the sense of being uncompromising.

    The problem for the others will come as they compete for these undecideds and have to counter her rhetoric as they do so. They fill be forced to the right in the process, and that will not be helpful for the eventual nominee.

  6. Gus says:

    Pawlenty can’t help but pander. It’s in his blood. He’ll move way right and crash and burn.