Thursday, January 6, 2011

Andrew Malcolm: Are Michele Bachmann's eyes on the White House?

What else happens in 2012?
The media is all abuzz over Rep. Michele Bachmann because some of her aides are telling reporters that the Minnesota Republican is considering a presidential run. As if to put an exclamation point on the rumors, she is scheduled to make a pilgrimage this month to a key primary state to speak at a fundraiser for the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC in Des Moines. But sometimes in politics, two plus two does not necessarily equal four, as Andrew Malcolm explains:
First off, Bachmann's idea of promoting herself into Republican congressional leadership for the 112th session that opened Wednesday was rebuffed by those same leaders, who did involve other more team-oriented "tea party" advocates. Rhetorical bomb-throwers a la Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele tend to attract unwanted attention and shrapnel to those standing nearby.

Second, Abraham Lincoln and George H. W. Bush aside, Americans have not shown any historical proclivity to elect House members to the White House. (Mike Pence take note.)


Palin's splashy primary endorsement of Nikki Haley in South Carolina last year ignited the surge that got the state legislator the nomination and the governor's job. Haley and her statewide organization might remember this come next year's early South Carolina GOP presidential primary.

And even if Bachmann's purported pondering does not result in presidential primary competition with pal Palin in 2012, it will raise Bachmann's national profile, not normally an easy thing to do for a representative from just any 6th Congressional District.

But, wait, do you know what else happens in 2012?

A Minnesota Senate race.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's term is up for renewal in 2012, and like many of her Democrat colleagues in the upper chamber, Andrew reminds us, "her fate will be tied closely to the popularity of Obama, the prime target of Bachmann for the next few months."

To Andrew's assessment we might also add that if a seat in the Senate is not what Congresswoman Bachmann is really after, recently elected Governor Mark Dayton's first term will be up in 2014, and he has recently been the subject of her criticism. Dayton's narrow victory in the Democrat primary was by less than two percentage points, and the general election was so close that eventual loser Tom Emmer did not concede until more than a month after Minnesotans had cast their ballots. So Rep. Bachmann has several options in her political future. The conservative lawmaker may decide that her road to the White House runs through St. Paul rather than just up Pennsylvania Avenue.

- JP

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