DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — When Michele Bachmann formally kicks off her bid for the White House on Monday in Iowa, she’ll do so after allowing precious weeks to pass without having established the presence needed in the state to woo the GOP activists considered key to winning its leadoff caucuses.

Bachmann’s slow open has left political players in the state wondering if the Republican congresswoman from Minnesota has the commitment to build the kind of grass-roots campaign and work to win voters in face-to-face meetings that have led past winners of the Iowa caucuses to success.

Her absence also has allowed Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose no-nonsense style attracts social conservatives who might support Bachmann, to creep into the Iowa discussion and begin to set up a campaign infrastructure in the event he gets in.

“Missed opportunity and lost potential — she had months of free rein here to organize and mobilize,” said Chuck Laudner, a former Iowa Republican Party executive director and longtime aide to Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King. “Now, it opens the door to Rick Perry. They’ve given him fertile ground to put an organization together.”

Securing a foothold in Iowa is important for Bachmann. She’s both a native of the state, having grown up in Waterloo, and a neighbor, having moved to Minnesota at age 12. Her popularity among Christian conservatives and tea party activists also make her a natural fit for the caucus electorate.

A strong finish in Iowa for the three-term congresswoman also could launch her as the key challenger to establishment Republicans in later nominating contests, most notably former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who hopes to draw on the same hometown relationship in New Hampshire that Bachmann has in Iowa.

Winning the Iowa caucuses traditionally requires a candidate to personally court the activists and party diehards who will attend the precinct-level political meetings on caucus night and literally stand up for their candidate. Successful candidates typically hire skilled organizers who know how to navigate the state’s party landscape.

Some county-level Republican leaders said they have seen little evidence of outreach by Bachmann at a time when other candidates have dispatched staff to their monthly meetings.

“I haven’t seen or heard anything out of the Bachmann camp I haven’t initiated,” said Ann Trimble-Ray, party chairwoman in GOP-heavy Sac County.

Veteran Iowa GOP operatives unaffiliated with any of the campaigns, such as Grant Young of Des Moines, wonder why Bachmann’s Iowa campaign director, Kent Sorenson, flew to New Hampshire for the June 13 debate. Bachmann would have been better served keeping Sorenson in Iowa, where he could point activists to the rave reviews she received for her performance, he said.

Later that week, Bachmann also had no campaign staff at a deficit conference in Des Moines attended by roughly 1,000 fiscal conservatives.

“The key to a caucus campaign is getting the candidate in front of people, snagging their names and asking them what they thought,” said Young, an Iowa Republican organizer for George W. Bush’s 2000 caucus campaign and John McCain’s campaign in 2008. “She had a good debate performance and nothing in place to catch it.”

Bachmann formed a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission on the day of the debate, and announced her intention to run on stage. She will return to Iowa for the first time since on Monday, when she’ll formally launch her campaign in her hometown of Waterloo, campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Stewart declined to discuss details of Bachmann’s Iowa campaign plans, but said she expects to compete in the Aug. 13 straw poll in Ames.

“We’re comfortable and confident with the plans we have in place,” Stewart said. “We do plan to participate and do well in the straw poll.”

Bachmann has visited Iowa four times this year and hired two senior caucus staffers, although neither have extensive campaign experience. She also has landed Republican strategist Ed Rollins, a senior adviser to 2008 caucus winner Mike Huckabee.

Like Huckabee, Bachmann draws support from evangelical pastors and Christian home-school advocates. However, Huckabee spent much of the previous two years before the 2008 caucus getting to know Iowa Republicans, while Bachmann’s effort began in January.

A three-term U.S. House member, Bachmann has been able to fuel her past campaigns with robust fundraising and infrequent public appearances. She raised $13.5 million toward her House campaign last year, the most of any 2010 candidate, but met her Democratic rival for three debates and only one before a live audience.

Bachmann traveled her district that runs from central Minnesota to the eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities in a motor coach splashed with her name and picture. She often pulled up to events where supporters already were assembled, rather than unannounced stops at potentially unfriendly surroundings.

Although the events were tightly controlled, they could serve as a template for her caucus campaign. It is typical for campaigns to assemble groups of potential supporters in homes, businesses and churches for the candidate to meet, and Minnesota GOP leaders say Bachmann has a knack for the hand-to-hand campaigning often attributed to successful caucus campaigns.

During her trips to Iowa, Bachmann has held meetings with key caucus constituents, including ministers and tea party activists. She also has held telephone town hall meetings with would-be Iowa supporters.

“She is one of the more tireless campaigners I’ve ever seen. She just moves and moves and moves,” said David Fitzsimmons, GOP chairman in Bachmann’s district.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (30)
  1. Susan says:

    As a sitting Congresswoman, why isn’t she announcing in the district or even in the state she represents in Congress? Poor showing Congresswoman Bachmann.

    1. Brian says:

      Because she’s a fool! Have you not figured that out by now? Boy I can’t wait to hear the loud “THUD” when she hits the floor. And it will be made all the sweeter when T-Paw’s thud is the next one heard.

    2. King says:

      She spends more money on her hair and make-up , then I do on my house payments ! what a joke.

  2. Ronald Raygun says:


  3. lefty says:

    someone need to kick her off the podium and tell her shes to much of an idiot to run and waste peoples time listening to her rant about nothing she has any knowledge about

  4. lefty says:

    its amazing how many people write negative things about her can she or the other morons she has with her not read. If this many people thought I was a fool idiot moron I know I would not be running for anything I would be running away

  5. lefty says:

    I want to blame her parents why did they have to come to Minnesota and pollute it with this idiot. They should have stayed where they were so she could play in the corn fields with her pet pigs

  6. JMJ says:

    @Brian, Ronald Raygun & Lefty.

    You boys all sound like a bunch of sexist morons who are intimidated by a woman. Instead of name calling why don’t you state what you don’t like about her political viewpoints. Oh and FYI: EVERYTHING doesn’t count. Be specific.

    1. Steve says:

      She has no political view points…that’s the problem…all she has is radical Teapublican Fox talking points not to mention she does nothing for her district…and the only woman that intimidates me is my wife…lol

    2. Brian says:

      @JMJ-Wow typical feminist comment. Just like the minorities are usually the first to throw out the race card. In case you missed it, I never said a negative thing about her being female. Her policies and opinions are what make her disgusting. I also mentioned T-Paw in my passage, as they’re two peas in a pod. In case you missed it, T-Paw is a man. Keep your B.S. allegations to yourself.

      1. Awebb says:

        Thank you Brian; well put. Bachmann doesn’t get an immunity clause for having a vagina – women politicians are subject to the same scrutiny as male politicians. Equality sucks sometimes.

    3. Dusty says:

      Wow. That’s a nice off-point remark. Not one of those guys ranked on her because she’s a female. Stop making issues where there are none.

    4. Babby Babble says:

      the Ho doesn’t have any political views …. other than what she gets trained to parrot. Even then she fricks it up

      polllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly want a crackpot

  7. Murph says:

    I have come to the conclusion that ALL of the GOP hopefuls are in fact hopeless! Wether or not one of them can fool enough people to become President is the real problem.Obviosly and most glaringly in Pawlenty’s case.The real personna of the candidates is being covered up by some sort of agreement or pay off.Absolutely nobody in THIS country should be allowed to campaign for POTUS while keeping a court conviction quiet.It is a desecration of the nations Constitution when the State of Minnesota’s Constitution can be assaulted and the act buried in campaign excrement.It is a travesty when the decision of a state district judge ,upheld by the Minnesota Supreme court is allowed to rot in some politicians closet while the American people are deprived of vital information on something so important as a Predidential election! The press has access to this stuff.The press has a duty to help the vetting process thru disclosure ,where disclosure is due and not sitting on it for unknown reasons or rewards.Pawlenty is a ghoul! Bachmann is just an abnormality!

  8. Joe B says:


    What a fine choice to snub the people that voted to put you into US Senate on your promise you would represent their state. We trusted you to serve your full term, not use your post as a stepping stone to higher office. Don’t suppose you’ll at least resign your seat to let someone who wants to live up to the oath of office for 6 years at a time. You recall the most honorable Senator Bob Dole stood down from his seat to run for president, sending a very clear and respectable message about his ethics. Ethics rarely followed by others in Congress when a better office is up for the running. Just saying…

    1. Al says:

      U S Senate? Christ are you stupid.

      1. Joe B says:

        Wasn’t writing for Fox News, so stupid is not an excuse, LOL. I made a very embarrassing factual mistake, sorry. (Something you never heard Bachmann say after she wrongfully told the public to *not* file their census forms…)

        As a registered voter in Minnesota, I knew better, too. As an English teacher, I have no excuse but for acting stupid by rushing a correction [about Bob Dole] and not proofreading where I made said correction before publishing. Thank you for catching that error on my part. Joe B.

        1. GUJ says:

          No worries, Joe. If the people of the 6th Congressional District were stupid enough to elect Bachmann in the first place, they likely won’t notice your mistake.

        2. Al says:

          I apologize to you. I assumed you were another illiterate, right wing fool. I was wrong. Everyone makes errors, including the one I made above.

          1. GUJ says:

            Not at all…I agreed with your original comment. Except the senate part, of course! : )

  9. Say not to Bachmann says:

    Bachmann until you stop telling the truth which is uncomfortable and does not line up with my on-the-dole ways I will drag your name through the mud. I suggest you change your message to mitigate and cover up reality. Please tell us how spending money will cure our ills. Also then please ignore the reality that half of the country pays no income tax and this is just fine.

  10. soapboxgod says:

    She claims to be a constitutional conservative yet she voted Yay on extending otherwise expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. The anti-Obama rhetoric will only take you so far Michelle. Eventually, you’re going to need to offer some solutions.

    1. Jex says:

      I’m pretty sure that most of the Patriot Act supporters were conservatives. Wouldn’t her vote to preserve it be par for the course?

  11. Good Riddance says:

    She’s never in the 6th District so she might as well be announcing in Iowa.

  12. make g says:

    She will never be. god hellp us if she do’s

  13. joe says:

    another tea-party bimbo

  14. AntiTeabagger says:

    Another T-Bagger who thinks she can win! HA, maybe she should read up on the Constitution before running. Anyone voting for this moron, would vote for that idiot Palin as well! I tell you what, take all that campaign money and do something good with it, besides waste a slot on the ballot!

  15. jeff says:

    go get more botox michele you fake, insipid and listless wh0re of babylon. i have no problem attacking this woman.

    1. quiet on the TeaPotty Chair says:

      Why kick a helpless dog my wife says.
      That stated – I consider her a pig and have no problem kicking one at all. Even a sow

  16. no no no no says:

    sad that what could be something (Tea Party) won’t be due to worthless chit like MB being the mouth piece they put out there.
    Someday someday will take a cowpie and show it down her throat. Hope I am there to watch and seeing her mouth closed and gagging on her own style of bs would be priceless

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