What's next for Michele Bachmann?
Rep. Michele Bachmann, head of the House Tea Party Caucus, isn't a mainstream GOP favorite – but she can still make money with lectures and media. She also has legal battles ahead.
In her surprise video announcement Wednesday telling the world she’s not running for reelection, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota suggested that serving in Congress is like being president: Eight years in office are enough.Skip to next paragraph
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Actual American presidents would probably take issue with that analogy. Though for Congresswoman Bachmann, whose tenure has been marked by staff upheaval, her own run for the presidency, federal investigations into her campaign finances, and tea party leadership, she may be just as exhausted as a two-term president.
But Bachmann didn’t say that. In fact, in her video, she seemed energetic and defiant as she insisted that the investigations and the strong Democratic challenger she faced for her seat had no bearing on her decision. She promised to “work overtime for the next 18 months in Congress defending ... constitutional conservative values.”
Beyond that, Bachmann didn’t offer any clues about her future. Her fans are also wondering – and clearly have big expectations.
“Where will Michele Bachmann go from here?” writes Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation social media site. “She hasn’t said but one thing is certain. We will still hear from her and she will still have a huge impact, long after her term ends in 2015.”
Perhaps she imagines a slot at a major conservative organization, just as Republican Jim DeMint – another tea party leader – recently left his Senate seat in South Carolina for the presidency of the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
Chances are, Bachmann won’t turn out to be Jim DeMint in a skirt. Running an organization doesn’t appear to be her strong suit.
But like many retired, high-profile politicians before her, she has many options.
"Whatever she does next – speaking, broadcasting, writing, or practicing election law – Michele Bachmann will let the world know on her terms, and at a time of her choosing. That’s been her modus operandi,” says John Gizzi, White House correspondent and chief political columnist for the conservative Newsmax. “Like her former ally, Sarah Palin, she won't go quietly into the night. To paraphrase the cigarette commercial, Mrs. Bachmann will walk a mile for a camera – and the camera will always follow her."
Embedded in that thought is the opportunity to make money, lots of money. Like Ms. Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee, whom Bachmann is often compared to, she can work the lecture circuit, write books, maybe launch a talk-radio or TV show. At an earlier time, she might have been a shoo-in for a paid gig on Fox News, but the network has been repositioning itself away from the far right, and it may not want the "what will she say now" risk that Bachmann would bring.