DES MOINES – Hours after Sarah Palin announced a bus tour of the east coast that could presage a presidential campaign, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) told reporters here that she was likely to announce a White House campaign next month in Waterloo, Iowa.
Bachmann, who spent much of her childhood in Waterloo, wouldn’t definitively say that she would launch a bid in the eastern Iowa city, but it was clear she was only holding back to sustain a measure of suspense for the actual event.
“The announcement will be made in Iowa, and it will be made in Waterloo and we’ll give you the date and the time,” she said via speaker phone to a room full of reporters in a hotel conference room here.
Bachmann was slated to speak to a Polk County GOP dinner, but remained in Washington, D.C., to vote on an extension of the Patriot Act.
Still, she went forward with what was apparently the announcement she had intended to make here in person. The result was a strange scene in which a couple of dozen reporters huddled around the podium for a media availability as the Minnesotan’s disemboded voice emanated from a speaker phone device.
The evening grew even odder when Bachmann delivered her speech to the crowd of about 200 Republicans via a shaky Skype connection. The audio and picture were transmitted in slow motion, and the transmission cut out entirely at one point.
She repeatedly apologized for her absence and delivered her conservative message, but she did not repeat her Waterloo plans to the dinner crowd.
Bachmann promised to take questions from the audience at the end of her remarks, but 46 attendees streamed out between the time she finished her speecch and finished her first answer.
In talking to reporters, the third-term congresswoman repeatedly said she was making preparations to run, though she insisted that “until we make the final announcement it would not be correct to say the decision has been made.”
But the tea party favorite and powerhouse fundraiser already sounded like a candidate in the call, touting her ability to bring in cash. She cited an unnamed article that suggested she had more small-donor fundraisers in the first quarter of the year than President Obama (the president didn’ t open up his reelection committee until the second quarter).
“I am very confident that if we get in this race we’ll be able to put the resources together to be able to wage a full-scale, successful effort to make it all the way to the White House,” said Bachmann.
She also noted that she had begun moving to create a campaign infrastructure.
“We already have a hired staff in South Carolina, in New Hampshire, in Iowa — we have people on the ground,” she said. “We’re doing every aspect that we need to be doing in this effort.”
The Minnesotan called Palin “a friend,” but quickly added that no two candidates “are interchangeable” and then touted her resume as a tax attorney, education reformer and former state senator
Bachmann declined to say if she would announce in time to participate in a debate on June 13th in New Hampshire, but said she would decide soon.
She indicated that she would compete aggressively in her native Iowa, where she said she still has family, and was planning to travel to the state tomorrow.
“Oh goodness,” Bachmann exclaimed when asked how her roots here would help. “Being born in Iowa gives every advantage – every advantage a girl would want to have.”
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