WASHINGTON — Former George W. Bush political adviser Karl Rove said Tuesday that Michele Bachmann will have to confront questions about inexperience if she runs for president, saying voters might have extra questions about relative political newcomers after the election of President Obama.
Rove, speaking with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly just after Bachmann finished an interview with him, said Bachmann is a “personal friend” and that he helped her during her first campaign in 2006.
“She’s smart, she’s tough, she’s funny, she’s got a lot of personality and all of that will help her if she throws her hat in the ring,” Rove told O’Reilly, adding that Bachmann will play well in Iowa, the state with the first caucus vote in the 2012 cycle.
The biggest challenge facing her, Rove said, is that it’s very hard as a member of Congress to jump directly to the White House. It’s only been done once before, by James Garfield in 1880, and he was a nine-term representative, a committee chairman and before that he was a brigadier general in the Civil War. Bachmann, in turn, is in the first year of her third term in Congress.
“I think it is going to matter,” Rove said, not because of Bachmann but because voters will look at President Obama and decide they’re not willing to take a chance on someone without much experience. Obama served just four years in the Senate before being elected as president.
Bachmann and Texas Rep. Ron Paul are the only two potential presidential candidates currently in the House, though the last political office Newt Gingrich held was in the House of Representatives, as Speaker, in 1999. Most of the rest of the potential field are current or former governors, like Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney (Massachusetts), Haley Barbour (Mississippi), Mitch Daniels (Indiana), Mike Huckabee (Arkansas), Sarah Palin (Alaska) and Jon Huntsman (Utah).
Bachmann, speaking with O’Reilly just before, declined once again to make an announcement about her political future, saying once again that a decision was likely to come in early summer.
But she told O’Reilly she had the experience for the office, as a member of the House Foreign Service and Intelligence Committees, as a principled “reformer,” her time in the state legislature before Congress and because she’s been a businesswoman.
She told the Fox host that she could weather a brutal campaign, saying “I’m used to vicious press, I come from a liberal state and the press hasn’t always been very kind to me.”
“We need somebody who’s going to be very strong and willing to take on Barack Obama,” Bachmann said.