Earlier this morning Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann launched her presidential campaign for real with a speech in Waterloo, Iowa. What made this declaration different from Bachmann's pseudo announcement at the Republican debate two weeks ago? This time she turned her full attention to wooing Iowa Caucuses goers.
After listening to Bachmann's speech, you'd be forgiven for believing that the Tea Party icon represents Iowa in the U.S. House rather than the state's northern neighbor. The biographical sections of the address all dwelt on Bachmann's life before she entered middle school. While most sixth-graders don't have what it takes to run for president, Bachmann appears to believe that being born and raised in Iowa should be enough for her to win the first-in-the-nation state.
I often say that everything I needed to know I learned in Iowa. It was at Hawthorne and Valley Park Elementary Schools and my home, both a short distance from here, where those Iowan roots were firmly planted. It's those roots and my faith in God that guide me today. I'm a descendent of generations Iowans. I know what it means to be from Iowa—what we value and what's important.
(Bachmann undercut any claims to Iowa-ness shortly after her speech, confusing Western film hero John Wayne -- hometown: Winterset, Iowa -- with Waterloo's clown serial killer John Wayne Gacy.)
But recent history suggests natives don’t have such a strong advantage with Iowa on their side. Sen. Tom Harkin lost the 1992 Democratic nomination after the other candidates ceded Iowa to him. Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack tried his hand at the 2008 nomination, but he was the first to leave the field, with his campaign not even making it to caucus day.
Bachmann's path to the 2012 nomination relies on winning the Iowa Caucuses, hoping that a strong showing there propels her campaign through Super Tuesday. But it is the congresswoman's far-right views on social issues and roots in the evangelical community that will allow her to shepherd Mike Huckabee's 2008 voters into her flock. Bachmann was inching toward caucus front-runner status even before her Iowa-riffic speech, with a Des Moines Register poll from over the weekend showing her second to Mitt Romney.