Bigger threat to Michele Bachmann: Media scrutiny or Rick Perry?
For the moment, Rep. Michele Bachmann has established herself as the top threat to Mitt Romney in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. A series of media investigations could take a toll, but the bigger potential problem is wildcard Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
There’s no doubt about it, a month after entering the presidential race, Michele Bachmann has momentum. The Minnesota congresswoman has surged to second place in the latest national poll of GOP voters on their party’s nomination. And she now places first in polls of Iowa Republicans, whose caucuses early next year will play a critical role in winnowing the field.Skip to next paragraph
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But with success comes scrutiny. And Congresswoman Bachmann now faces what every candidate with buzz goes through: swarms of reporters and opposition researchers going through every nook and cranny of her life, and her husband’s life, looking for anything that might shed light on who she is and what kind of leader she might be.
Among the recent news items:
- A hidden-camera report on ABC’s “Nightline” on Marcus Bachmann, the candidate’s husband, that showed his Christian counseling center had engaged in the controversial practice of trying to convert gay people into becoming straight. Mr. Bachmann had said in the past that his treatment centers do not engage in that practice. Both Bachmanns have not addressed the ABC report.
- A report in the Los Angeles Times that found the Bachmann counseling business had received $30,000 over five years from the state of Minnesota, money that comes partly from the federal government. Also, the report said, a family farm in Wisconsin had received $260,000 in federal farm subsidies. The congresswoman, a tea party favorite, advocates reduced federal spending.
- A report by the news site MinnPost, a member of the Investigative News Network, that found six letters Bachmann had written to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood seeking federal stimulus money for projects in Minnesota. This, after Bachmann had opposed the Obama administration’s $830 billion stimulus package in 2009.
In an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune last November, Bachmann argued that transportation projects should not be called earmarks. And her defenders say that it would be irresponsible for a member of Congress not to seek available federal funding for legitimate projects in his or her district. Critics charge hypocrisy.
The larger question – whether the enhanced scrutiny will give GOP voters pause – remains open. People who would be upset by the allegations about her husband’s counseling business may not be Bachmann fans in the first place. And it’s easy to argue that members of Congress should operate within the current system to benefit their constituents even as they try to change the system.