Bachmann Rides Momentum Into Race
Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., is set to kickoff her run for the GOP presidential nomination. Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call.
The 2012 GOP presidential field will get a serious jolt of Tea Party fervor Monday when Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann formally kicks off her campaign in Waterloo, Iowa.
She couldn’t have picked a better time to launch a bid if she tried.
A Des Moines Register poll released Saturday shows her support at 22 percent among Republican caucus-goers in the Hawkeye State, trailing leader Mitt Romney by only a single percentage point.
Bachmann also received largely positive reviews for her performance in the New Hampshire debate earlier this month.
POLITICO’s Mike Allen previews some of Bachmann’s prepared remarks in Monday’s “Playbook”:
“We cannot continue to kick the can of our problems down the road, because they are problems of today and not tomorrow. We cannot continue to rack up debt on the backs of future generations. We can’t afford an unconstitutional health plan that costs too much and is worth so little. And we can’t afford four more years of failed leadership at home and abroad. We can’t afford four more years of millions of Americans out of work or in jobs that pay too little to support their families. We can’t afford four more years of a housing crisis that is devaluing our homes and making home ownership impossible for many Americans. We can’t afford four more years of a foreign policy that leads from behind and doesn’t stand up for our friends and stand up to our enemies. We can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama.”
With Bachmann’s presidential prospects on the rise, her record has become the target of fresh scrutiny.
While her relentless criticism of President Obama has made her a favorite of the Tea Party movement, that fiery, in-the-moment style has also gotten her in trouble. Perhaps the most famous example came in 2008 when she suggested in an interview that President Obama “may have anti-American views.”
She was also widely knocked for confusing a key piece of U.S. history earlier this year when she said New Hampshire was the home to the “shot heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” Those Revolutionary War battles actually took place in Massachusetts.
In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” this past weekend, host Chris Wallace asked Bachmann, “Are you a flake?”
“I think that would be insulting, to say something like that, because I’m a serious person,” Rep. Bachmann responded. She highlighted her experience as a tax lawyer, her family life (33-year-marriage, five children and 23 foster children) and her service as a Minnesota state senator and U.S. congresswoman.
Wallace pressed Bachmann if she realizes that she has “to be careful and not say what some regard as flaky things.”
“Well, of course, a person has to be careful what statements that they make. I think that’s true. And I think now, there will be an opportunity to be able to speak fully on the issues. I look forward to that,” she told Wallace.
Also on Sunday, Melanie Mason and Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times reported on how the fiscally conservative Bachmann had benefited personally from federal dollars, based on an examination of her record and finances.
“A counseling clinic run by her husband has received nearly $30,000 from the state of Minnesota in the last five years, money that in part came from the federal government. A family farm in Wisconsin, in which the congresswoman is a partner, received nearly $260,000 in federal farm subsidies.”
Bachmann told Wallace that the funds for the clinic went towards employee training and that she and her husband did not get any of the money. She also said the farm belongs to her father-in-law and that she’s “never gotten a penny of money” from the property.
With Romney keeping his distance from Iowa this time around, all signs point to Bachmann being the Republican to beat in the state in 2012, assuming she can withstand the pressure that comes with her new-found front-runner status.
THE NEXT LEVEL
Debt ceiling negotiations move to the next level Monday, with the leaders of both parties in the U.S. Senate scheduled to meet separately with President Obama in the White House.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that both sides want to come to an agreement quickly on how to raise the debt limit. McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will meet separately with the president.
“We’d like to wrap this up,” Sen. McConnell said. “One of the reasons we are meeting tomorrow is that I think both the Democrats and the Republicans would like to come together and finish this negotiation and finish it sometime soon. It need not necessarily go to the 11th hour.”
But at least in public, there’s no sign that Republicans and Democrats are close to agreeing on how to deal with taxes in any compromise. McConnell repeated Sunday that he wouldn’t agree to tax increases, including the closing of tax loopholes.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reminded colleagues that any compromise would likely need votes from her caucus and that she wants to see revenue increases as part of a deal.
“You cannot achieve what you set out to do if you say it’s just about cutting. It has to be about increasing the revenue stream as well,” Rep. Pelosi told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “Unless the speaker comes to the table with 218 votes…leader Cantor can’t handle the truth when it comes to these tax subsidies for big oil, for corporations sending jobs overseas, for giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our country. While they’re asking seniors to pay more for less.
The Washington Post’s Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery report that Republicans are considering bigger Pentagon cuts, as well. A senior White House aide told the Post that defense spending cuts could help facilitate a deal:
“‘To get anything through the House, you’re going to need some Democratic votes. This isn’t a one-way street here,’ said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door sessions. ‘It’s clear that any package is going to have to have significant spending reductions, including in Pentagon spending.’”
Kane and Montgomery report that in listening sessions with his conference, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is hearing a willingness to consider defense spending cuts. “When we say everything is on the table, that’s what we mean,” McCarthy told the Post.
FIRST IN THE SOUTH CAUCUS?
South Carolina’s status as the first in the South primary could be in jeopardy if the state’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, vetoes part of a state budget proposal that would partially pay for the contest.
The State’s John O’Connor reports that a Haley veto would prevent South Carolina’s election commission from helping run the primary and would force the state to instead hold a caucus.
“Switching to a caucus would end the state’s three-decade tradition of holding the first-in-the-South primary. That primary’s importance has been bolstered by state Republican voters’ record of picking the eventual GOP nominee in every race since Ronald Reagan in 1980. The state also would lose national exposure, prestige and millions of dollars that campaigns, media and others spend during the event,” writes O’Connor.
Gov. Haley has until Wednesday to make a decision on the funding plan. A two-thirds vote in both the state’s House and Senate would be needed to override any veto.
DAVID AND GOLIATH?
The 2012 presidential contest will be the first in which newly legal outside spending groups will be able to raise and spend unlimited amounts on advertising. And one of the largest of those groups, American Crossroads, wants to raise at $120 million to help Republicans defeat President Obama.
American Crossroads, a 527 independent expenditure group, also has a nonprofit arm called Crossroads GPS, which does not have to disclose its donors.
American Crossroads Chairman Mike Duncan, a former head of the Republican Party, said Friday that his organization is playing David to the White House and incumbent Democrats’ Goliath.
“We’re the loyal opposition. It’s our duty to point out the policy flaws and the effects of the polices on the other sides. GPS is an advocacy group…but the 527 is more political – we are going to promote federal candidates. And part of that is pointing out why candidates shouldn’t be elected,” Duncan said.
American Crossroads has already announced a $20 million campaign doing just that. Starting Monday it will air ads in key states, such as Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, attacking President Obama’s stimulus package as ineffective.
Democrats have also created similar groups. House Majority PAC announced Monday it would run ads against eight House Republicans, attacking them over their vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan.
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