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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Michelle Bachmann Visits Mike's America

Michelle Bachmann: "Hello South Carolina"
Photo by Mike's America
Her visit is the Lowcountry kickoff for the GOP 2012 nomination fight in SC!

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) made her first foray into the Lowcountry on Friday with a fundraiser at a private home in the woods of Bluffton, SC before a series of larger public meetings in Bluffton on Saturday. It was the first event of the 2012 GOP presidential nominating process to be held in the area and Bachmann did not disappoint.

While not ready to declare herself an official candidate Bachmann told the large crowd assembled outdoors under a tent that she is "praying on the matter" with her family and would listen to her "heart" before making a final decision whether to run.

But it sure sounded like she is a candidate eager to run. After greeting the crowd, she reminded them why many were there. As she punctuated the air with her finger the crowd spoke the words along with her: "we're here to make sure Barack Obama is a ONE...TERM...PRESIDENT!"

Rep. Bachmann then proceeded to speak for approximately 45 minutes without notes, in an eloquent, passionate outpouring of facts mixed with conservative beliefs and a description of  her background. She told the crowd she was eager to debate President Obama and would "not need a teleprompter." The woman clearly needs no prompting to say what she believes.

Assessing a Bachmann Candidacy

Michelle Bachmann is clearly a darling of the Tea Parties. Christian conservatives will love her as well. But can she appeal to Independent voters? Bachmann points out that she's won election and re-election in liberal Minnesota, despite being the number one target for defeat in 2010 by the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi.

Yet, it's important to note that no Congressman has been elected President since James A. Garfield who had served nine terms in the House. Bachmann is only serving her third term in the House and is a relative unknown outside conservative circles. She faces an uphill battle in the mainstream media which paints some attractive and aggressive conservative women in a negative light.

But Bachmann says it's "time we had a fighter in the White House" and she signaled that if she enters the race, she's "in to win." What could propel her from the relative obscurity of second tier GOP candidates is a smart strategy and a bit of luck.

Win Iowa and SC and You're the Frontrunner!

Bachmann was born in Iowa, which borders Minnesota. She's already well known in that state and earlier this month hired former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s former Iowa political director. Readers will recall that Huckabee's upset win in Iowa in 2008 propelled him to the front of the pack and he very nearly upset McCain in South Carolina. If Huckabee does not run in 2008 Bachmann will have some strong support in Iowa and may win over Huckabee's evangelical supporters in upstate SC.

The big obstacle to a Bachmann win in Iowa is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty who is also well known across the border and has hired several top Iowa campaign operatives, including another former top Huckabee aide (1,2). Pawlenty is widely viewed as a somewhat more moderate candidate than Bachmann which might broaden his appeal to independent voters but may not help as much in Iowa and SC contests where conservatives tend to dominate.

You could have a scenario where Bachmann wins or places second in Iowa, loses New Hampshire but comes to South Carolina and wins. Admittedly, that still a longshot, but it's entirely possible.

Meanwhile, expect to hear more from Michelle Bachmann as she edges her way up the pack. If she plays her cards right she may make it to the top. And Lowcountry residents will be able to say "I was there at the beginning!"

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