She announced it at the recent debate, filed the paperwork and held a pre-announcement event last night, but today Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann officially entered the presidential race with a speech in Waterloo, Iowa.
She said she’s running:
“because I am grateful for the blessings God and this country have given to me, and not because of the position of the office, but because I am determined that every American deserves these blessings and that together we can once again strengthen America and restore the promise of the future. I want to bring a voice, your voice, to the White House, just as I have brought your voice to the halls of congress to secure the promise of the future for our generation and generations to come.”
There weren’t many specifics, and pundits noted she’s better speaking off the cuff than from a script, but she threw out a challenge:
Together we can rein in all the corruption and waste that has become Washington and instead leave a better America for future generations.
People are paying attention:
The Fix in the Washington Post says she’s now the frontrunner in Iowa:
...Bachmann holds the pole position in the Hawkeye State, and there are any number of reasons to believe she can grow her support in the state between now and next February.
Politico said she channeled the Tea Party in her prepared remarks:
Michele Bachmann delivered her Iowa announcement speech this morning, casting herself as an agent of the tea party and declaring that her “voice is part of a movement to take back our country, and now I want to take that voice to the White House.
Bachmann gets a courtly nod, of sorts, from the BBC this morning:
BBC North America editor Mark Mardell says Republicans feel that next year’s presidential election is winnable if only they have a candidate who sparkles — and Michele Bachmann is the latest to catch their eye.
She is already a darling of the Tea Party movement for her plain talking and forthright conviction politics.
While she has made her share of harsh statements — seen by opponents as gaffes — some think she has many of Sarah Palin’s qualities with fewer of the drawbacks, our correspondent adds.
ABC News wondered: Is Bachmann just another Huckabee?
Bachmann’s biggest hurdle will be to prove that she has appeal outside of the ideologically narrow Iowa Caucus electorate. She can’t afford to be pigeon-holed as “just another Mike Huckabee,” who won the 2008 Caucuses there largely due to his resonance with social conservative voters.
Some immediate reactions from Minnesota Democrats:
Tweeted Richard Carlbom, communications director for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman:
Yep. @michelebachmann’s anouncement kicked @timpawlenty’s rear-end. Becoming clear that TPaw is going nowhere fast. MB knows movements.
And DFL State Chair Ken Martin said in a statement:
“We know from her frequent mistakes when speaking about our country’s legacy that Michele Bachmann is fond of changing history — and it appears that now she’s channeling that trait into a deceitful attempt to portray herself as someone who has something to offer our country as President of the United States. The truth is, Rep. Bachmann does not have a single success that she has delivered for Minnesotans — just a long record of divisive rhetoric, extreme policy positions, hypocrisy and shameless self-promotion. Her support for ending Medicare and ‘weaning’ people off Social Security is proof enough that Michele Bachmann would be a terrible President.”
We haven’t seen a “Bachmann-officially-in-the-race quote” yet from Tim Pawlenty — who’s been all over Iowa for months and has to be unhappy with all the attention his state-mate is gathering. But he began running radio ads today in the state, trying to remind people that he’s in this, too. His TV ads started running last week.
The radio ad doesn’t mention Bachmann by name, but does seem to take a subtle jab at her with the line: “Tim Pawlenty, results not rhetoric.”
Pawlenty also wrangled a spot on “Good Morning America” this morning before the Bachmann speech. Pawlenty said early polls — which show Mitt Romney and Bachmann in the lead and him in the rear — don’t mean much.
AP talked with Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg, who was beaten by Bachmann in the 2008 congressional race. He’s amazed at her resiliency:
“She can say something that’s just outrageous and just completely wrong and move on and never skip a beat,” Tinklenberg said.
MSNBC’s political folks said they’re taking Bachmann seriously:
Bachmann has one good problem: She’s peaking early. Can she keep it up? And keep this in mind: Bachmann is doing this without the so-called MSM; in fact, she’s even doing it without FOX News (whose Chris Wallace asked her yesterday if she was a “flake”).
That refers to a distraction Bachmann had going into this morning’s speech, stemming from her interview Sunday with Wallace on Fox News. He asked, point blank: “Are you a flake?”
He later apologized, but she wasn’t buying it, saying it is “insulting to insinuate that a candidate for president is less than serious.” She added: “I’m a very serious individual. I have a strong background, a strong resume. Those are the small issues, I’m focused on the big ones.”