Let’s not bury the lede – she isn’t going to run.
In politics, the rumored presidential campaign for many office holders is a cry for attention about one step removed from binging on aspirin. For near total unknowns like former Godfather’s CEO Herman Cain or heyday politicos like Rick Santorum, the seeking of the White House is game of trival pursuit. Lacking resources and with few political options, candidates like these have nothing to lose and everything to gain with a quixotic bid that likely ends in the hometown of Iowa State sometime in early August.
Bachmann doesn’t lack for attention nor resources, as her $13.4 million campaign haul demonstrated. But she may lack options. Hemmed in by Minnesota’ s statewide left tilt, likely ruling out any statewide bid, immediate or otherwise, and having lost out as Chair of the House Republican Conference to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Bachmann’s present trajectory would be to become the best known backbencher in the history of Congress.
A bid for the presidency likely wouldn’t change that – but a possible bid for president might.
Actually running for president involves far too many “make or break” moments for any candidate, let alone a three-term congresswoman who, despite her numerous media forays over the years, isn’t exactly a household name to the average Iowan or New Hampshirite. An exploratory committee or even merely a rumored campaign allows Bachmann the best of both worlds. She can raise copious sums for her Michele PAC, get mentioned in every discussion of the 2012 Republican Primary, dismiss any poll that shows her doing poorly (she isn’t even a candidate, of course) and conversely celebrate any poll that shows her non-campaign campaign gaining momentum. It’s the Fred Thompson strategy – which worked as long as he wasn’t formally running.
6 or 7 months of presidential media footsie and Bachmann can raise her national name ID even further, stockpile cash, and thus potentially leverage her pull within the House GOP Caucus. Bachmann hasn’t exactly been embraced by the new House leadership, and the feelings are probably mutual. It’s hard to ignore the comments and demands of a media saavy politico. It’s even harder to do so when that politico is seen as gunning for the nomination.
It’s a somewhat deft political move by Bachmann as the end result harms few politicians not named Tim Pawlenty – who suddenly runs the risk of spending the summer of 2011 being known as that other Minnesotan running for president.