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Michele Bachmann for president in 2012? Why yes, thanks for asking

January 09, 2011|By Andrew Malcolm, Los Angeles Times

Michele Bachmann — yes, Michele Bachmann — is considering a presidential run, according to several of her aides who suddenly started discussing the subject with Minnesota reporters.

In fact, the Iowa native (Waterloo) will travel to that state later this month to talk against the massive spending of you-know-who at a fundraiser for the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC in Des Moines.

The Minnesota Republican, now starting her third House term, has proved a media magnet like her like-minded fellow GOP conservative Sarah Palin; both are often quoted, often derisively. This fall, Bachmann was targeted by numerous prominent Democrats but showed herself adept at raising both dollars and votes.

Consumers of American political news should always be wary when they read about politicians' aides speaking enthusiastically about what their boss might possibly perhaps be thinking. These spokespersons do not speak of such things without advance approval or direction, as in "See that you suppress this leak widely."

"The Iowa trip is part of a bigger picture. There's a national story line here," said Bachmann communications director Doug Sachtleben, virtually begging for national media coverage.

That kind of talk is usually a bank shot.

First off, Bachmann's idea of promoting herself into Republican congressional leadership for the 112th session that opened Wednesday was rebuffed by those same leaders, who did involve other, more team-oriented "tea party" advocates.

Second, Abraham Lincoln and George H.W. Bush aside, Americans have not shown any historical proclivity to elect House members to the White House. (Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, take note.)

Even those backroom-maneuvering senators have been frowned on as national chief executives. Barack Obama is only the third sitting senator to move over to the Oval Office, and look what's happened to his sky-high job approval since moving day.

However, even in an increasingly crowded GOP field, mumbling about running for president in this age of 24-hour news cycles can attract much publicity for potential candidates, unless you're Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. And much publicity can attract crowds and, oh, by the way, much money. Especially if you appear to ride a rising tide of popularity and empowerment for successful conservative females.

These funds can then be used for your own campaign or to fertilize clout and influence by helping other like-minded politicians and causes. Mitt Romney's been doing that virtually since the day he conceded the 2008 GOP nomination to John McCain.

Even if Bachmann's purported pondering does not result in presidential primary competition with pal Palin in 2012, it will raise Bachmann's national profile, not normally an easy thing for a representative from just any 6th Congressional District.

But, wait. Do you know what else happens in Minnesota in 2012?

A Senate race.

Democrat Amy Klobuchar was elected in the same 2006 anti-Bush fervor that washed Democratic majorities into control of both houses of Congress that year. However, voters' Nov. 2 job evaluation of many of those Democrats was harsh. Hence, dozens joined the unemployment line this month.

Klobuchar must face voters for her first reelection in 2012, when her fate will be tied closely to the popularity of Obama, the prime target of Bachmann for the next few months. Nine ball in the side pocket.

andrew.malcolm@latimes.com

Top of the Ticket, a blog on national politics, http://www.latimes.com/ticket is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. This is a selection from the last week.

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