Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Unofficially Officially In

Michele Bachman used last night's GOP candidates' debate to announce that she had filed papers with the feds to become an official candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, but that she would make an official announcement later in the month. She dropped that bit of news in response to a totally unrelated question posed by the debate's moderator. The whole riff pretty much typifies Ms. Bachman's way of doing things, as this lengthy article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune makes clear. It's headline gives it away: "Bachman: Outsider From The Start."

...Bachmann's polarizing journey from the State Capitol to Congress and possibly beyond has been a tale of high drama and conflict. Few Republicans in Congress generate more animosity from Democrats, a point of pride for Bachmann in frequent fundraising pitches that portray her as a top target of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

More significant are the divisions she has sown within her own party, where she is seen as a Tea Party maven all too willing to overshadow GOP leaders in Congress, going so far as to eclipse the official GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union Address in January with one of her own.

"You've got to be willing to take on our party, the other party and then explain it to the people," she told GOP supporters in New Hampshire recently. "I know I can make the case to the American people and win them over to our side." ...

"She very much had a vision, she felt it was the right vision, and she was going to ramrod it through regardless of what anyone else wanted," said Stephens, a longtime Republican who has turned independent.
[Emphasis added]

Her announcement last night put some really interesting twists into the process for the Republicans. First of all, as one of the two divas for the Tea Party, Bachman has stolen some of the other diva's thunder. Sarah Palin has been teasing the press and the rest of the country with respect to her own possible entrance into the fray. Bachman has in effect told Palin that regardless of her decision, Bachman's into the race and ready to go. That should steal Palin's thunder, at least a little bit. Perhaps now the press will get off its "will-she-or-won't she" non-stop coverage of La Palin.

Secondly, the announcement put a little pressure on another Minnesotan candidate: former Governor Tim Pawlenty, who has been struggling to get attention beyond Bill O'Reilly's dismissal of him as "vanilla." Pawlenty and Bachman have a history, one that goes back to when both served in the Minnesota legislature, and it wasn't always pleasant. Pawlenty was too much a good Republican. Their earlier difficulties are bound to resurface as the real race heats up.

Finally, assuming that the race is Mitt Romney's to lose, she is still a potential candidate for the number two slot. She is, after all, someone the Tea Partiers love and it appears that the group will continue to make life uncomfortable for more traditional Republicans. Will the party be willing to make that kind of decision two presidential elections in a row?

It's too early to tell how all of this will pan out, but it sure is fun watching.



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