2012 Contender Series: Michele Bachmann
(Updated January 4th: Ms. Bachmann officially withdrew from the residential race after a poor showing in the Iowa Caucus. It is expected that she will run for re-election in Minnesota once the redistricting is settled)
(Updated: Bachmann officially declared her candidacy during the New Hampshire debates)
Michele Marie Bachmann is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 6th congressional district. This district wraps around outside the northern half of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, extending to the northwest to include St. Cloud. The district is mostly suburban, tending toward rural farmland as it moves away from the Twin Cities. This district was once represented by Charles August Lindbergh, father of the famed aviator. Rep. Bachmann’s public persona has reflected the conservative politics of her district.
I intend in this article to avoid much editorializing. I will also resist the temptation to present many quotes. Plucking those low-hanging fruit would simply be mean; the facts speak for themselves.
Her first term in the House began in January of 2007, when she replaced retiring two-term Republican Mark Kennedy. She had previously served for six years in the Minnesota State Senate, defeating 18-year incumbent Gary Laidig to secure the GOP endorsement in 2000. In November of 2003, she co-sponsored a Minnesota state Constitutional Amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. Her efforts to get that proposed amendment on a ballot referendum failed. She tried again in 2004, and again the state Senate rejected her proposal.
Ms. Bachmann briefly (November, 2004–July, 2005) held a minor leadership position in the State Senate. Dick Day, then the state Republican Senate Minority Leader, appointed her Assistant Minority Leader in charge of Policy for the Senate Republican Caucus. About eight months later, the Caucus removed her from this position, for what Bachmann characterized as “philosophical differences” with Day. She ran for the United States House of Representatives the following year, and became the first Republican woman elected to the U.S. Congress from Minnesota.
Since she has presented herself as a possible presidential candidate, it is relevant to consider some of her legislative actions and positions. It is difficult to give more than a short summary, as she has been so active and outspoken. I hope commenters will expand on the following, and add more detail in places I have omitted.
As one of her first major actions upon taking office, in January of 2007, Ms. Bachmann called for hearings on President Bush’s plans for a “troop surge” in Iraq. She repeatedly declined to comment on whether she personally supported or opposed the surge, claiming to not have enough information to decide. In February, a resolution opposing the surge was approved in the House by a vote of 246–182. She voted against the resolution.
This represented one of the few times Ms. Bachmann has been hesitant to take a stand on an issue. She voted against a bill to increase the minimum Pell grant for college students from $4,310 to $5,200. The bill also would lower interest rates on federally subsidized student loans from 6.9 percent to 3.4 percent, and would raise the maximum loan to $30,500 from $7,500. She claimed this bill “favors the costly, government-run direct lending program over nonprofit and commercial lenders.” The bill overwhelmingly passed the House, and President Bush signed it into law in September of 2007.
She has occasionally spent time looking for problems to solve. She once introduced legislation that would bar the dollar from being replaced by any foreign currency. (Is this a necessary regulation?) She has called for the media to investigate members of Congress for “anti-American views.” She introduced the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act,” intended to repeal the switch from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs, claiming that fluorescent bulbs pollute more because of their mercury content.
She is considered a leader in the Tea Party movement. She is the founder of the House Tea Party Caucus. She attempted to leverage her notoriety into a leadership position in the 112th Congress, seeking to become House Republican Conference Chair. But she was soundly rebuked by Representatives Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, and others. Shortly after, she presented her personal response to President Obama’s State of the Union address in 2011, billing it as the “Tea Party response.” It was carried live by CNN.
She has endorsed drilling for oil in ANWR, claimed global warming is a “hoax,” and opposed cap and trade legislation. She opposed TARP (both the initial version that failed in a close vote, and the later version that was enacted). She voiced serious concerns about the 2010 Census, and urged citizens to limit their cooperation.
She opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), saying that it contained “death panels,” allowed funding for abortions, and provided care to illegal immigrants. She claimed the proposal for a public option amounted to a “government takeover of health care.”
But we ain’t seen nothing yet. In one of her most recent acts, early in the 112th Congress, she proposed repeal of the recent financial regulatory reform act, calling it a “job-killing…financial regulatory bill.”
Ms. Bachmann is known for a rather outgoing and effusive style. You can find some of her best quotes here. I recommend thumbing through them.
What are her chances of getting the Republican nomination? She should probably be considered a long shot. If Sarah Palin runs, the two of them are likely to be seen as being pressed from the same mold, and would tend to split votes in the primaries. Ms. Palin has an advantage of greater name recognition; Ms. Bachmann has the advantage of having demonstrated she can hold elected office for extended periods without resigning. (Fun fact: Alaska has a population of a bit under 686,000; Ms. Bachmann’s district is a bit under 615,000.) If Ms. Palin drops out, Ms. Bachmann is her natural heir.
Would the Republicans go with a female presidential candidate? Will the Republican establishment accept a candidate so closely associated with the Tea Party? Can she manage a ground game on a national scale with such a crowded field? Don’t write her off for the third-tier status most analysts give her; she is a proven fundraiser, raking in a record $13.2 million in her 2010 reelection campaign, over $20 for each person in her district (the FEC is looking into some of those funds). This may make her a force to be reckoned with.
LATE BREAKING: Ms. Bachmann spoke yesterday before a receptive audience at the CPAC gathering, and brought them to their feet. She called on fiscal conservatives to unite with social conservatives and with defense hawks, to hold on to the House, take the Senate, and defeat President Obama in 2012. She repeatedly referred to the President’s policies as “socialist,” and called PPACA the “crown jewel of socialism.” Study her speech; it is a preview of what her Presidential campaign will be about.
- Republicans Use Strategy To Deal With Michele Bachmann (huffingtonpost.com)
- Michele Bachmann Asked By FEC For Information On $1.5 Million In Donations (huffingtonpost.com)
- Michele Bachmann & The GOP: How House Republicans Handle Tea Party Darling (huffingtonpost.com)
- John Boehner, Michele Bachmann, and the GOP Divide (usnews.com)
- Michele Bachmann; ObamaCare is the Socialist Crown Jewel (notalemming.wordpress.com)
- The Michele Bachmann Presidential Bubble (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bachmann Hands Out Bachmann Jerseys, Beer – CBS News (news.google.com)
- Michele Bachmann & Tim Pawlenty – Two Minnesotans Too Many For 2012 Presidential Race? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Lets put Michele Bachmann in the White House in 2012! Bachmann PAC (notalemming.wordpress.com)
- Bachmann’s case for untouchable ‘founding documents’ (washingtonmonthly.com)