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Michele Bachmann moves closer to presidential bid

The Minnesota Republican pointedly refuses to deny a report she will form an official exploratory committee by late spring.

March 24, 2011|By Paul West, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Des Moines — In another sign that she is moving closer to a 2012 presidential run, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann did not deny a report Thursday that she would form a presidential exploratory committee by late spring.

The conservative Minnesotan was on a campaign-style swing through neighboring Iowa, the first caucus state, when CNN reported that she would file papers to form a committee in early June.

In a brief interview before meeting privately with lawmakers at the state Capitol in Des Moines, she repeated her standard line about a 2012 race — that she would decide "by summer" — but pointedly declined to shoot down the CNN report.

"I'm not saying it's false," Bachmann said, adding, "It could be before then."

She said there was "a natural timeline" for a presidential run, and if she decided to go ahead, she would do so in time to contest a summer straw vote in Ames, Iowa.

Aides and Iowa supporters have been urging Bachmann to declare her candidacy early enough to allow two or three months of organizing in advance of the nonbinding Aug. 13 vote, which has a history of both boosting and deflating presidential candidacies.

Bachmann, 54, is a favorite of "tea party" activists, as well as the social and religious conservatives who play an outsized role in Iowa's GOP caucuses, the first step in the 2012 presidential nominating process. The caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 6.

This week, another Minnesotan, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, became the first prominent Republican to form an exploratory committee. Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich has formed a different type of committee that allows him to raise money in advance of an expected presidential try.

paul.west@latimes.com

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