It's looking increasingly likely that tea party maven and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., will dive into the 2012 presidential waters.
Among the evidence is a packed schedule for this weekend, including two suspiciously stump-like stops in Florida on Friday and a Sunday appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, where she’ll be asked about how “the campaign against President Obama’s reelection should be framed,” according to network previews.
Most notable is Bachmann's involvement in the conservative Club for Growth’s annual winter meeting on Friday, where her name shared a guest list with those of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts—all rumored White House contenders.
But if Bachmann—who started the House Tea Party Caucus—is considering a presidential bid, the elephant in the room is best illustrated by her appearance on Friday before the Palm Beach County chapter of the South Florida Tea Party. After all, in terms of national association, the tea party label is as good as sewn into Sarah Palin’s signature red jacket.
“I hear chatter” about Bachmann’s run, said Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer, “just the same as I do with [former Alaska] Governor Palin. They’re both rock stars in the movement; they’re both strong and willing to take on the establishment. That’s why their message resonates and why people are seriously looking at them as candidates.”
But would a dual-darling bid split the tea party vote?
“I have no idea,” Kremer said. “But it’s not going to be a popularity contest. The people in this movement are smart and engaged, and both [Bachmann and Palin] are going to be speaking across the country and going to debates.”
One edge that Bachmann might have over Palin, name recognition aside, is her strategy in early-primary states. Iowa, home of the 2012 cycle’s first caucus, has yet to see Palin make a concerted effort, the Associated Press reports.Meanwhile, Bachmann will participate, among other events, in the Conservative Iowa Caucus later this month and is scheduled to speak at a meeting for the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire—another early-voting state—next week.
Kremer said that the Tea Party Express won’t be endorsing anyone until after September’s presidential debate, which the group is cosponsoring with CNN. But when it does, “It’s going to be the person who can get this country back on the right economic footing.”
Kremer added, without naming names: “I think [the tea party] might have some people who come from sort of the understudies, so to speak.”