ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Michele Bachmann has an escape hatch if she can’t revive her sputtering presidential campaign: The Minnesota Republican never ruled out a return to Congress.

A loyal GOP base back home, uncertainty over district boundaries and tepidness by possible successors are helping keep Bachmann’s political options open. But among party operatives and past allies, there are increasing doubts that Bachmann will try to reclaim her seat — or would even want to go back to the House.

The fuzziness around Bachmann’s future distinguishes her from a House colleague in the presidential race, Ron Paul of Texas, who closed the door to another congressional campaign. None of the other GOP hopefuls face the up-or-out choice because they’re mostly former officeholders or, in the case of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, only midway through a current term.

While finally in the majority party, Bachmann regularly finds herself at odds with Republican leaders on strategy and policy. Her bid for a leadership post went nowhere last winter. She is better known for her vocal opposition to legislation than brokering deals. And the possibility of lucrative TV or speaking circuit contracts could prove more enticing — and assure her continued visibility.

“Congress is too small for Michele,” said Jack Tomczak, a former political director for Bachmann’s congressional campaign. “Leadership has never given her the opportunity to do much. So I think she’s going to be looking for other avenues where she can be more successful.”

Her reputation for not being a team player shows through her empty column of Capitol Hill endorsements; none of the three fellow Minnesotans in Congress are publicly backing her. Some argue Bachmann would return as a weakened figure if her pre-campaign might among tea party members fails to carry her very far; that strength afforded her a powerful platform in Washington despite not being in the leadership circle.

Bachmann’s campaign ignored requests for comment on her fallback plans. When Bachmann launched her bid in June, she said she had “suspended” all congressional campaign activities and siphoned money from that campaign fund into her new presidential account.

She built herself into an early contender by playing up her tea party and evangelical Christian ties. She won the Iowa GOP straw poll in August, but has since stumbled out of the lead pack.

Mark Pischea, a former National Republican Congressional Committee executive, said returning to Congress could help Bachmann rehabilitate her political image and fill in resume gaps that gave voters pause.

“If she’s interested in staying on the national stage, if she’s interested in maintaining the possibility of running again for president one day, if she’s interested in affecting public policy at the federal level, Congress is where she should be,” Pischea said.

For now, Minnesota Republicans are giving her space. But as 2012 approaches, some potential candidates are watching their own window narrow for organizing support and raising millions of dollars a race would require.

“She’s in the driver’s seat,” said GOP consultant Scott Cottington. “The real question is at what point will be people become nervous. I wonder if people will start to question whether or not she can turn back and come home.”

Bachmann, who raised a whopping $13.5 million toward her last race, would likely start with an empty tank. She had raked in $1.5 million by the start of 2010.

If she does run for Congress, Democrats are primed to trot out Bachmann’s comments putting Minnesota in her rearview mirror.

“I’m an Iowan,” Bachmann has stressed repeatedly in the critical caucus state. She even made Minnesota a punch line in some Iowa speeches, joking this summer in her hometown of Waterloo that as a young girl she fretted a move to “exotic, faraway” Minnesota. “That would put fear in the heart of any Iowan,” she said.

Democrats are also making note of her absenteeism. She’s missed almost 50 percent of recorded House votes since getting to the race in mid-June and hasn’t cast any since Aug. 1, according data compiled by

The largely suburban district where Bachmann handily won a third term in 2010 will undergo big changes before next year’s election. A court panel redrawing Minnesota political maps must cut almost 100,000 people out from the district that now stretches from the Wisconsin border past St. Cloud. Where the new lines fall will determine the district’s political competitiveness, but it’s highly likely the GOP-leaning district loses some conservative strongholds to the west.

The court won’t rule until late February — well after Bachmann should know her presidential fate. State law gives her until June 5 to file for re-election, although the Minnesota party endorsement process begins months earlier.

The district is currently home to power players in the state GOP who get mentioned as possible candidates, including House Majority Leader Matt Dean, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer. State Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state, said she is considering running. So is former state Rep. Phil Krinkie, president of the Minnesota Taxpayers League.

Krinkie, who challenged Bachmann for the party nod when she first won the seat in 2006, said if he decides to run he may not wait for official word from the incumbent because of the time and cost involved in waging a high-profile campaign. But he said he’d step aside if she reverts back to the House race.

“I’ve seen what happens when people try to step into the ring with her,” Krinkie said. “I understand the amount of money, the amount of time and the amount of organization it takes. But if I were to do it I would certainly put a disclaimer on anything I did.”

Former state Rep. Jim Knoblach said it’s a delicate situation for any candidate.

“Anyone who tries to go out and do too much right now risks alienating delegates, most of whom like Michele,” Knoblach said.

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

Comments (32)
  1. Derek Wain says:

    The MSM’s negative obession with Congresswoman Bachmann is pathological I live in the 6th District. She can get re-elected to the House easily if she wants, because of the huge support she enjoys here.

    1. tan pup says:

      Shows how blind you people are. You complain about money flowing out to people who don’t earn it, however you don’t say Boo to MB for making fun of her voters, not showing up for work and looking for a new job all the while collecting a handsome paycheck and healthcare paid for by MN people who DON’T support her or even like her. If she was a democrat you all would want her head on a platter! OBTW, the media is pro-conservative take a look at who owns 95% of the mass media which includes, web-press and TV, that is why she gets the press she does. The only thing pathological is MB with her lies, bigotry and ignorance. She is a money grubbing hypocrite just like the people who support her.

      1. Jake says:

        Get a LIFE. Last I heard, she has not resigned from her representative seat. Secondly, where were all of your negative rants when obama basically vacated his senate seat to run for president? HUH?? At least Michelle has at least a FEW years of SENORITY on obama in terms of serving in a FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ROLE. IN FACT, obama hasn’t even run for RE-ELECTION in ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT POSITION. 2012 will be veddy interesting indeed.

    2. Brian says:

      Funny…I live in the 6th District and I think she’s a joke…just like most of the GOP’ers nation-wide. This is evidenced by her short-lived run at the White House. Across the country, the GOP voters are becoming increasingly leary of putting her in the White House, but I bet the voters in the 6th District are just dumb enough to re-elect her.

      1. BoB says:

        Funny, Brian, but I think you are a joke.

        1. Paul Solinger says:

          Good comeback, Bob. Your comedy writing leaves a little to be desired, but you get an ‘a’ for effort.

        2. ger says:

          Michelle should stay in Iowa……sorry Iowans

          1. Jake says:

            At least the Iowans had enough wisdom to VOTE OUT 3 SC justices in their last election, so I still have some hope for them yet.

        3. Brian says:

          Good one. I’m rubber and you’re glue.

    3. Paul Solinger says:

      As far as I’m concerned, Derek, that’s sad. She turned her back on us, insulted Minnesota, and done absolutely nothing for the 6th district. I feel like we aren’t even represented in congress right now. If the residents of this district vote her back in again, then that will truly be pathetic.

      1. Jake says:

        Then you should immediately move into the southern part of CROOKLYN DARK or BROKEN CENTER, would be the PERFECT POLITICAL SCENE FOR YOU. We have a WINO republican congressman (i.e. paulsen), and idiot state rep named nelson, and will probably vote in another dfl idiot to replace the last dfl idiot who represented us in the state senate. We also have an idiotic liberal county commissioner (i.e. OPAT), so that should give you just about a ROYAL FLUSH, in terms of your political leanings. Obviously, the fact that you still LIVE in Michelle’s district means that you can’t possibly disagree with EVERYTHING that she stands for, otherwise you would have moved out a LONG TIME AGO. Take a good look in the mirror, then move on.

        1. Brian says:

          @Jake-“Obviously, the fact that you still LIVE in Michelle’s district means that you can’t possibly disagree with EVERYTHING that she stands for, otherwise you would have moved out a LONG TIME AGO.” This has to be one of the more idiotic things I’ve heard…even from a GOP supporter. I guess by that rationale, based on your hatred of our elected officials here, you’ll be moving to Texas soon. If not, I guess that means you agree with some of the things they stand for. Classic short-sighted, Bachmann supporter comment. Go celebrate Elvis’ birthday, meat head.

      2. Dave Campbell says:

        Well said paul!!!!!

  2. Wrinkled says:

    I hope when Bachmann drops out of the Presidential race, she throws her support behind Ron Paul, we’d accept her supporters with open arms.

    1. Joe says:

      Get over this Ron Paul fetish. The man is senile! It’s time for you to get behind the other candidates! THERE IS NO WAY BARACK OBAMA GETS RE-ELECTED! So all of you Ron Paul supporters, STOP THIS AND SUPPORT WHOEVER GETS THE GOP NOMINATION!

      1. Wrinkled says:

        You sound like a person who knows nothing about politics. The GOP can not win without Ron Paul supporters. You see, it’s brainless robots like you who vote for anyone you are told to vote for. Ron Paul supporters won’t vote for any hack job, so, if Dr Paul doesn’t get the nomination than Obama wins.

        Do the math Joe

  3. Dave Campbell says:

    Let’s hope that the voters of the 6th district wise up and elect someone who actually cares about them and not Michelle Bachmann who quite obviously does not!

  4. djp says:

    Bachman…since you say you are an iowegian…go back there!!

  5. JJ says:

    Hey Wisconsin!! You want our 6th District?? It’s free.

  6. MB, oh NOOOOOOOOO says:

    Like this is a surprise? I predicted this all along. When is Marcus going to come out? I’m sure he could learn a thing or two from Larry Craig. Bigots, the both of them.

  7. G Dog says:

    There are just enough 6 toed mouth breathers here in the 6th District to re-elect her. Hopefully the redistricting that is before the courts right now will be redrawn to exclude Stearns and Anoka County inbreds.

    1. sid says:

      what are you in the fifth grade?

      1. Jake says:

        Probably more like the SECOND GRADE, just perfect for another ‘hitler movement’.
        The younger you are, the more easily you can be moulded. The left are EXPERTS at this.

        1. easyrider says:

          @ Jake

          Know your history before sounding off about what you think Hitler was. That was Fascism, which is as right wing as you can get. Haven’t you heard that people who don’t know about history are doomed to repeat it? My advice is to just leave off the references unless you understand them. Among other things, being informed is what it takes to make informed decisions.

  8. Dave Campbell says:

    Sid? I take it you have never heard of the Stearns County Syndrome?

    1. sid says:

      Nope, have not been to the nut house lately.

  9. Pavel says:

    I liked the Iowegian thought!! She needs to be put out to pasture (family farm, which collects Federal money) along with Ron Paul. They are both a “bag of wind”!

  10. Steve says:

    I live in the 6th District. Bachmann has done little for us in the 6th district for the past three years. Yes, she can probably get re-elected by her ignorant fan base, but I, for one, hope she really does think that “Congess is too small for her,” and doesn’t run again.

  11. Robert says:

    You don’t have to live in the 6th district to realize Bachmann has done very little. Check her congress record, she hasn’t proposed any bills. The only thing she has done is take taxpaper’s money, slam Obama and run for president. Let’s get real people she is useless. Maybe she should go back to Iowa, I mean all along she has been saying she is Iowaian.

  12. hard rains says:

    Could it be most of the 6th people come from Iowa? Anyway, her Teapot party in general tends to focus on the small stuff rather than important stuff, they also tend to have convenient short-term memories, don’t like accurate historical stuff, and when it comes to the poor, the disenfranchised, and most of the middle class, they don’t have a heart. The leaders of the Teapot Party are only focused on more welfare for the wealthy and that’s all. I’ve been heartened lately to hear about the “Wall Street Protesters”, its at least a start in focusing on the truly important things facing this country.

    1. Maureen says:

      What have you folks been smoking? What exactly are the Wall Street Protesters protesting? Capitalism? Jobs? They don’t give their money to the guys in the streets? Where you raised by wolfs?

  13. Murph says:

    Falling back into the firey pit she came from would be great!

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