Two key tests for Michele Bachmann and her presidential bid
Rep. Michele Bachmann announced her presidential candidacy Monday, saying she is a 'bold choice.' Can she win the Iowa caucuses? And can she broaden her appeal beyond the tea party?
Michele Bachmann stood near her girlhood home in Waterloo, Iowa, on Monday and announced her presidential candidacy, saying she is a “bold choice” and that under her leadership the country could “secure the promise of the future for America.”Skip to next paragraph
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Ms. Bachmann, a favorite of tea party voters and a three-term member of the US House representing Minnesota, stressed her tries to Iowa. The state is home to the February 2012 caucuses, which will be the first of the presidential nominating season. “Everything I need to know I learned in Iowa,” she told the crowd.
A tax lawyer by training, Bachmann faces two political tests. First, she has to win her home state’s influential caucus to be considered a viable contender. Second, she has to broaden her appeal beyond the tea party enthusiasts who have helped fuel her rise to prominence. Bachmann is the founder of the House of Representative’s Tea Party Caucus.
At this early stage in the race, Bachmann is in a strong position in Iowa. A poll of likely Republican voters in the Iowa caucus, commissioned by The Des Moines Register and released over the weekend, shows her in a statistical dead heat with Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney, who is making less of a push in the state than he did in 2008, had 23 percent support, followed by Bachmann at 22 percent. Former pizza chain executive Herman Cain, who also has tea party support, came in third with 10 percent.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has been traveling to Iowa for more than a year, fared poorly in the Register poll, pulling only 6 percent of voter support.
Polling experts caution that early snapshots of voter support for the Iowa caucus are not always a reliable indicator of the winner. As ABC News' “The Note” pointed out, in May 2007 the same poll showed Romney leading the pack in Iowa with 29 percent. The eventual winner was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, but in early polling he posted only single digits.