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Bachmann says Huckabee, Trump exits may push her to run

May 17, 2011|By James Oliphant
(Charlie Neibergall/AP )

Rep. Michele Bachmann said Tuesday she’s close to deciding whether to jump into the 2012 presidential race, and she suggested that Mike Huckabee's and Donald Trump’s exits from the field make it more likely she’ll get in.

Huckabee's and Trump’s decisions have “changed the grass roots and what they’re looking for,” the Minnesota congresswoman said on Fox News Channel on Tuesday. “Our phones have been ringing off the hook, our Facebook has been lit up, our donations are pouring in. People are saying 'Michele jump in, we want you to run.'’

Appearing on FNC’s “America Live,” Bachmann said the events may force her to speed up her timetable. “We had announced earlier that we would be looking at a June entry date for a decision one way or another about this race,” she said. “Possibly we may move that up. We are talking to a number of people."

Huckabee’s decision to forgo a race possibly creates an opportunity for Bachmann. Both appeal to social conservatives. Bachmann has been courting support in Iowa, where Huckabee won in 2008. At the same time, Trump was popular with some "tea party" voters, and Bachmann is chairwoman of the House tea party caucus.

A possible threat to Bachmann’s candidacy, however, looms in the person of Sarah Palin, who also does well with evangelicals and tea party activists. Bachmann said Tuesday that her decision would not rest on whether Palin decides to run.

Bachmann is employing a novel approach to her potential run, asking supporters to choose to donate small amounts if they want her to stay in the House, or larger amounts if they want her to pursue the presidency.

In the interview, she said that her ability to raise money is another factor in her decision, but she has shown already this year that she has some fundraising acumen. She raked in $1.7 million for her congressional reelection campaign in the first quarter of the year.

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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