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Congress or White House? Michele Bachmann asks supporters to vote with their wallets

May 16, 2011|By Melanie Mason
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), right, takes a picture with Nick Cifolelli, 13, from Elkton, Md., before speaking at an Americans for Prosperity "Cut Spending Now," rally on Capitol Hill in Washington in April.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), right, takes a picture with Nick Cifolelli,… (Alex Brandon / Associated…)

For those tired of being an armchair political consultant, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is inviting her small-dollar donor base to pay for the privilege of weighing in on her presidential ambitions.

In an email blast last Friday, Bachmann asked supporters to answer an online poll consisting of just one question: Are you satisfied with the current field of potential Republican presidential candidates?

And pertaining to Bachmann's own political future, recipients were encouraged to vote again -- this time with their wallets.  

"If you want me to continue fighting the big-government Obama agenda in the U.S. House of Representatives, please make a generous donation of $25," Bachmann writes.

"If you want me to seek the Presidency, please make a donation of $50 or even $100 to let me know I can count on you."

The email is the latest example of  Bachmann's unconventional outreach to small-dollar donors.  The Center for Responsive Politics noted that an earlier email offered a signed pocket Constitution for donations of $35 or more; another letter, pegged to her 55th birthday, encouraged donors to give $55 or $110, one or two dollars per year.

The novel approach has made her a fundraising juggernaut.  In the first quarter of this year, Bachmann raised $1.7 million for her House re-election campaign, with 75% of the contributions coming from people who gave $200 or less.

"Congresswoman Bachmann continues to reach out to supporters all across the country as she makes this important, critical decision of whether or not to seek the GOP nomination for President," said Andy Parrish, a Bachmann advisor.  "Mrs. Bachmann's email supporters are a very critical group providing input."

Parrish said the response to the email has been "very positive," but was mum on which path the recipients -- and their dollars -- favored.

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