Bachmann Headed to South Carolina. But Not To Run for President

Bookmark and SharePolitics is one of those areas where you never say never. In a field where convicted felons can get elected and dead ones can get reelected, anything can happen. In 2006, no one really believed that a young State Senator from Illinois would become President of the United States within two years. And who would have ever imagined that a Saturday Night Live comedian would be able to steal an election to become a United States Senator? So when it comes to the 2012 presidential election , I will not say that Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann doesnt have a snowballs chance in Hawaii, a state she just visited on Wednesday to address conservatives in, but I will say that she is not likely to be the Republican nominee for President. Yet Bachmann has embarked upon a tour of America that forces us to ask, if she is not running for President, what is she doing?.

A few weeks ago she gave an address before a conservative tax group in Iowa. This weekend she heads to Montana where she will be the keynote speaker at the Lewis and Clark County Republican Lincoln-Reagan dinner. Now comes word that on the 19th of this month, she will be heading to South Carolina, an early primary state, and one that is seen as a pivotal prelude to the delegate rich Southern primaries that follow it.

Bachmann claims that she merely wants to be a part of the discussion that takes place in 2012. She says that she wants to make sure that all the right issues are addressed in the right way. But for Bachmann to do that, she need not travel thousands of miles to address relatively small crowds of people every week. As a Congresswoman, she has a megaphone big enough for her message to get out. We all know this. That is why after many repeated questions about a run for President, Michele remained coy but admitted that the option is there and that she does not feel rushed to make a decision.

So what is Michele really doing?

Congresswoman Bachmann is trying to play it smart. Thats what shes doing.

No one really knows what the Republican presidential field will look like in 6 months. Aside from Romney, Pawlenty, Santorum and a few other names like Gary Johnson, Herman Cain and Fred Karger, we really cant be sure which way Republican allegiances will fall, because there is no certainty that other names like Gingrich, Daniels, Huntsman, Barbour, Huckabee, DeMint, Perry, Paul, or Palin, are going to be running. Depending upon the combination of candidates that finally do comprise the G.O.P. field, the possibility exists for a new name to enter the field, one that can consolidate the anti-establishment TEA Party movement and bridge it with the conservative base of the Republican Party.

Right now, few if any names are exciting large segments of the TEA Party and conservatives are not gravitating towards any one name yet. Depending on who finally enters the race, Bachmann could actually be that bridge between conservatives and TEA Party activists. Aside from Sarah Palin, few potential candidates other than Herman Cain, fire up that significant segment of the electorate. And Herman Cain really only has a regional base among those voters in the South. Jim DeMint is another very possible bridge between the Republican base and TEA movement members, but the chances of him running, while existent, are not very high. However; in the likelihood that Palin and/or DeMInt do not run who else is there to fill this TEA Party void? Michele Bachmann.

At the same time, we can not underestimate the ability of a well run campaign from some of the likely names running, to hit the right chords and attract both conservatives and the anti-establishment TEA groups. Mitt Romney may actually be able to pitch his Achilles heal, Romney-Care, as an example of states rights and differentiate his plan from Obamacare by demonstrating that the big difference was the right of the state to enact such a program, while at the same time being something that he always knew was inappropriate for a President and the federal government to impose on all the states. And on top of that, Romney does have a pleasing record of private sector experience and conservative credentials that will be attractive to many in the G.O.P..

Then there is Newt Gingrich. Underestimating him will also be a mistake. Newt is a true ideas man and the combination of ideas and a keen ability to articulate the heart and soul of conservatism and American exceptionalism, may astonish a broader spectrum of the electorate than some expect.

Other candidates who have the ability to tap into the overriding sentiments of the electorate are Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour and maybe even Tim Pawlenty.

The truth is, the evolving Republican field has the potential to be very crowded and filled with some of the most exceptional leaders the Party has had to offer in generations. In fact it could be so crowded that the conservatives, moderates, and TEA Party activists could be extremely divided and make this one of the closest nomination contests in modern history.

That is where Michele Bachmann comes in.

Bachmann is not going to run for President. She is however going to try to make sure that she selects the next Republican presidential nominee for President.

Regardless of who does or doesnt run, if Bachmann were to run, she would not be able to run for reelection to Congress in 2012 and her congressional seat is her real bully pulpit. However, by simultaneously hitting key primary and caucus states as she tours the country and fires up the forces, Bachmann kills two birds with one stone. She continues to fuel speculation about a presidential bid, a rumor that elevates her stature and solidifies her support from the TEA Party that she has come to represent, and the conservatives that are looking for a hero. This in turn will not only do what Bachmann said and be a part of the discussion, it will also allow her to become a kingmaker.

The Bachmann tour is designed to allow Micheles endorsement to be critical to the likes of a Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels or even a Newt Gingrich. If the G.O.P. presidential field is indeed crowded and if the vote is as divided as it currently looks like could be, Bachmanns fired up conservative and TEA Party forces could make the difference. Especially for someone like Mitt Romney.

To understand some of the motivation behind this, one must realize that Bachmann has found it necessary to make some bold tactical moves that can insure she has a seat at the Washington leadership table. After Republicans took control of the House, Bachmann had hoped to become the House Republican Conference Chair, the fourth highest post in the House. She was ultimately denied this position. Apparently, much of the House Republican leadership was uncomfortable with giving Bachmann the position because many deemed her to be too controversial and believed she participated in too much grandstanding. Imagine that, a politician grandstanding.

While Bachmann put on a happy face and offered her enthusiastic support for the man the leadership did want in the position, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, she was not pleased. Now she is trying to insure that she has a degree of power and influence that even Hensarling wont have..the ability to play kingmaker and determine who the next President may be. Of course in order for to this to work, a few things are required. One; Sarah Palin cant run and two, the field needs to be a crowded one that offers no clear favorite early on.

So despite all the rumors about a Michele Bachmann presidential candidacy in 2012, and regardless of how coy her answers may be when asked if she is running, Bachmann is not running for President but she is running to make sure that she has the ability to pick who the President will be. That said, I must reiterate my early statement……… never say never. In the end, who knows who will be running and exactly where the Republican convention delegates will fall? The Republican presidential nominating contest could be so close that the nominee is determined by Hawaii, where Michele just wrapped up her latest speaking engagement.

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