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Bachmann draws near to White House decision

April 20, 2011|By James Oliphant

Republican firebrand Michele Bachmann says she'll decide on a presidential bid by June--but she's certainly sounding more and more like that will be only a formality.

Bachmann, appearing on Sean Hannity's program on Fox News Tuesday evening (It's a big day for Hannity on Politics Now), was candid with Hannity about her plans, saying that she is assembling a national campaign team and laying the groundwork for a bid.

The Minnesota congresswoman has visited several early primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

"People are fed up with President Obama and they want a change," Bachmann said. "We've had a wonderful reception wherever we've gone, and I'm really encouraged."

Bachmann, popular both with social conservatives and the fiscally-minded tea-party movement, has shown herself to be a dynamic fundraiser, a point she illustrated to Hannity and Fox viewers at home.

"Last quarter, I raised more money than any of the other candidates, even Mitt Romney," Bachmann said. And indeed, Bachmann pulled in $2.2 million to Romney's $1.9 million in the early part of this year.

(By the way, this is why no candidate wants to be labeled a front-runner this early. It lets everyone else paint themselves as an underdog.)

Bachmann said that she and her husband are contemplating whether a run is the right thing to do--and whether she has "the fire in the belly" for what promises to be a grueling primary.

"We’re Christians. We pray about these things," she said. "We’re trying to know that we know that we know that this is exactly what we should be doing right now."

She said because the Iowa Straw Poll will be held in August, that she would have to decide by June, but said a decision could come earlier.

The congresswoman's more immediate concern, however, will be the upcoming battle over raising the federal debt limit, something she opposes unless it is tied to de-funding the Democratic healthcare initiative. That could place her at odds with the GOP leadership in the House, as she was over the 2011 budget compromise.

Ironically, Bachmann appeared on the same program as Sarah Palin, whose seeming ambivalence toward a run has created a space that a telegenic social conservative such as Bachmann could be quick to fill. Palin said Tuesday that it was "too early" to talk about a presidential effort.

Bachmann also showed that she, also, is not immune from Trumpitis. Hannity dutifully asked her about Obama's birth certificate, and she responded by saying that Obama should just release the official record so that the issue is over and one with.

"Let’s just solve this and get it over with," she said. "We have so many bigger fish to fry."

UPDATED: Bachmann, appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday, was shown a copy of Obama's birth certificate by George Stephanopoulos. "Then, that should settle it," Bachmann said. "I take the president at his word."

Sounds like she would like to move on.

james.oliphant@latimes.com

twitter: @jamesoliphant

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