Though Thomas Wolfe famously said, "You can't go home again," US Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) did just that, returning to Waterloo, Iowa -- the town where she was born -- to officially announce her entry into the 2012 presidential race on Monday, June 27, 2011.
Standing on the steps of a building that once housed the Waterloo Women's Club, she delivered a 20-minute speech of just over 2400 words invoking both the past and the future.
She spoke of her upbringing as a Democrat and how she initially got into politics by working for Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign in 1976. Yet it was Carter's missteps, she says, that led her to switch parties:
...[W]hen I saw the direction President Carter took our country; how his big spending liberal majority grew government, weakened our standing in the world, and how they decreased our liberties, I became a Republican.
Bachmann also described how her mother -- newly single in the aftermath of divorce -- raised a family without relying on handouts:
...[W]e made our own way. We depended on our neighbors and ourselves and not our government for help. We trusted in God and our neighbors and not in Government.
She admitted that a future in politics wasn't something she had envisioned for herself as a tax attorney and successful small business owner in partnership with her husband. Yet the belief that she needed to "make life better" launched her first foray into the political sphere:
When I saw the problems with our local school district and how academic excellence was being eroded by federal government interference with the local schools, I decided to do more than just complain about it. One of those Iowa values instilled in me was to always leave whatever you were involved with better than when you found it, so I decided to seek public office to make our local school district better. I didn't seek public office for fortune or power, but simply to make life better in our community and education better for our children. And now I seek the presidency not for vanity, but because America is at a crucial moment and I believe that we must make a bold choice if we are to secure the promise of the future.
Describing herself as the voice of constitutional conservatives, Bachmann peppered her speech with references to God and the Holy Scriptures, working class families and enlisted men and women in the armed forces, and criticism of government which "has gotten too big, spends too much and has taken away too much of our liberty." Using the analogy of the three-legged stool, she explained how the movement she represents "is made up of Americans from all walks of life":
It's the peace through strength Republicans, and I'm one of them, it's fiscal conservatives, and I'm one of them, and it's social conservatives, and I'm one of them. It's the Tea Party movement and I'm one of them.Although Bachmann is the only woman running for president among a handful of currently-declared GOP contenders, another female candidate is expected to run -- former 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Since resigning as governor of Alaska, Palin has kept a high profile due in part to her numerous television appearances, among them the TLC reality show Sarah Palin's Alaska, her work as a Fox News commentator, and her daughter Bristol Palin's participation in the ABC TV series Dancing With the Stars. Although Palin has yet to enter the race, rumors of a Bachmann-Palin feud have already surfaced in the blogosphere, threatening to turn a historic and spirited competition for the Republican nomination between two viable female candidates into a catfight.
The liberals, and to be clear I'm NOT one of them, want you to think the Tea Party is the Right Wing of the Republican Party. But it's not. It's made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who've never been political a day in their life, libertarians, Republicans. We're people who simply want America back on the right track again.
However, Bachmann's early entry into the race and her participation in the June 13, 2011 GOP presidential debates have already had an impact. On the day she made the official announcement of her candidacy, prospects appeared strong -- at least in Iowa. A Des Moines Register poll published two days earlier put her at the top of the field of GOP presidential contenders along with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. In a survey of likely caucus-goers, 23% of those polled supported Romney while 22% backed Bachmann.
Bachmann, Michele. "Full transcript | Michele Bachmann | Announcement of 2012 presidential run | Waterloo, Iowa | 27 June 2011." NewStatesman.com. 27 June 2011.
Jacobs, Jennifer. "Iowa Poll: Romney, Bachmann in lead; Cain third; others find little traction." 2012 Iowa Caucuses, DesMoinesRegister.com. 25 June 2011.