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Bachmann: I’m not Sarah Palin
DES MOINES — Though she couldn’t be there in person, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) made good on her commitment to speak to Polk County Republicans and members of the media Thursday night through a live-streamed video.
Bachmann postponed her trip to Iowa Thursday, opting to stay in Washington to vote on the renewal of the Patriot Act bill, which would permit domestic intelligence access to business records and conduct roving wire taps to pursue terrorists.
Some had hoped Bachmann would use the Thursday dinner to formally announce her candidacy for president, and certainly rumors swirled that Iowa would be the stage for it. However, the Congresswoman said Thursday night she will stick to the original plan and make her decision in early June. The announcement will be made in her native Waterloo.
“Oh goodness, being born in Iowa has every advantage,” Bachmann said with a chuckle when asked if she believed being an Iowa native would give her a leg up with voters here. “It gives every advantage a girl could want. There’s no downside to being born there.”
So will she or won’t she? Mum’s still the word, Bachmann told reporters in a conference call Thursday night, though she made strong indications she will soon be the lone woman in the 2012 presidential race.
“We have plans in place, and it isn’t that we aren’t starting to make those decisions,” Bachmann said. “We have teams in South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa. We have drawn a broad donor base.”
Still, Bachmann said any campaign decisions she makes “are independent of what any candidate decides.”
She also urged voters to not compare her to former Alaska governor and unsuccessful 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, another high profile Republican with a broad tea party following.
“I have great respect for Gov. Palin and I consider her my friend,” Bachmann said. “But no two candidates are interchangeable. We all bring our own set of unique qualities to the table.”
Bachmann, who lived in Minnesota for much of her childhood, is oft considered the tea party darling. Iowan political pundits have pegged her as being one of three potential candidates would could garner the sought-after tea party and social conservative vote, should she choose to enter the race.
She has reached out to different groups within the tea party movement during her trips to Iowa, and this week established a money bomb fundraiser similar to Republican candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul‘s to appeal to “constitutional Conservatives.”
Though she did not reach her initial goal of earning $240,000 in 24 hours, Bachmann reported in an e-mail to supporters the goal was met in less than 36 hours. Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, have also fostered more than 20 children, and are staunch supporters of home-schooling.
“I’m looking forward to showing people who I am,” Bachmann said, noting her career as tax attorney and politician at the state and federal levels. Bachmann has a law degree from Oral Roberts University and a Masters of Law degree from College of William and Mary Law School.
Polk County GOP sold 500 $75 tickets to the fundraiser dinner, with about 350 people in attendance, including Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa State Auditor David Vaudt. Lawmakers, including Rep. Erik Helland (R-Johnston) and Sen. Kent Sorenson, were also in attendance.
Helland delivered an address during dinner, praising Gov. Terry Branstad for returning to Terrance Hill.
“The change is remarkable,” Helland said of his terms under both former Gov. Chet Culver and now Branstad.
Helland also urged guests to continue to “put pressure on [Senate Majority Leader] Sen. [Mike] Gronstal,” who Helland said continues to stall Republican agendas in the Iowa Senate.
“We’ll repeat the same mantra you sen us to push,” he said. “House Republicans promised to roll back state government…and spend less than we bring in. We won’t bend, break or back down.”
The Congresswoman hopes to honor other scheduled appearances in Iowa Friday, including being on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” and speaking to supporters at a country club in Davenport.