Bachmann will make it official -- one way or the other -- in June

Becky Ervin asks Michele Bachmann a question
Becky Ervin asks Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann a question during a video conference at a Polk County Republican fundraiser Thursday, May 26, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.
MPR Photo/Alex Kolyer

Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said on Thursday that she will announce next month whether she will run for president, and that the announcement will be made in Waterloo, Iowa, where she was born.

Bachmann spoke via video to a group at a fundraising dinner for Des Moines Republicans. She had to cancel her in-person appearance to stay in Washington to vote on renewing the Patriot Act.

Almost two dozen reporters huddled around a speaker telephone in a small conference room at a downtown Des Moines hotel, to hear some specifics from Bachmann about her potential presidential candidacy.

"That announcement, I'm pleased to tell you tonight, will be made in Iowa. And I can also tell you that announcement will be made in the city where I was born, Waterloo," Bachmann said.

Bachmann said she considered making her announcement this month because, in the span of just a few days, three major potential candidates decided not to run -- former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, businessman Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. But she decided to stick with her plan to announce her plans in June on the recommendation of her advisers.

Rep. Michele Bachmann
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke to attendees at a Polk County Republican fundraiser during a video conference Thursday, May 26, in Des Moines, Iowa.
MPR Photo/Alex Kolyer

Bachmann made it clear that she's moving ahead, even though she hasn't announced a final decision.

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"It isn't that we aren't starting the effort. We are. We already have staff in South Carolina, in New Hampshire, in Iowa," she said. "We have people on the ground. We're doing every aspect that we need to be doing in this effort."

One of the people working with Bachmann is Iowa state Sen. and tea party favorite Kent Sorenson. Sorenson thinks Bachmann will run.

"It's not my decision to make. If it was, she would probably be running a few months ago," said Sorenson. "But I respect her decision. I believe she's doing it in a thoughtful manner. She's making sure that all her i's are dotted and t's are crossed, and, when she makes that decision, we are ready to run here in Iowa."

Across the hall, a few hundred Des Moines area Republicans who paid $75 a head to see Bachmann were to see a videotaped speech instead, but technical problems prevented that from happening. The Internet connection carrying Bachmann's speech dropped occasionally.

Iowa Senator Kent Sorenson
Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson speaks to the media about Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at a Polk County republican fundraiser Thursday, May 26, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.
MPR Photo/Alex Kolyer

Bachmann acknowledged the result was not ideal.

"I feel terrible about this," she said. "Absolutely terrible."

In her video appearance, Bachmann talked about national security, 2012 GOP campaign strategy, and her opposition to raising the debt ceiling. She also called preventing same-sex marriage "critical," and pledged to repeal the Democratic-led health care overhaul.

Bachmann's absence from the Des Moines fundraiser was a big disappointment to fans, including Becky Ervin of nearby Urbandale.

"I'm going to be devastated," Ervin said. "I wanted to see her again."

Ervin hopes Bachmann will run. She thinks Bachmann would make a good candidate.

"I think that people really can relate to her. I know I do," said Ervin. "It would be so nice to have somebody like that that is just like us, just like the regular people."

Pins for the party
Becky Ervin displays her Republican support pins before the Robb Kelley Victory Dinner, a Polk County Republican fundraiser, Thursday, May 26, in Des Moines, Iowa.
MPR Photo/Alex Kolyer

If Bachmann does run, political insiders say she could do very well in Iowa. In addition to being born there, she has appeal among the social conservatives who were instrumental in helping Huckabee win the 2008 Iowa GOP caucuses.

Some speculate that if former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gets into the race, Bachmann might choose to sit it out. But Bachmann said her plans are not related to those of other possible candidates.

Ervin says she thinks Palin's personal life might become an issue.

"I would love for Sarah Palin to be the president, but I don't think she should run," Ervin said. "After everything that's happened to her -- I want somebody that can get elected, to tell you the truth, and I guess I think Bachmann would get elected before Palin would."

Many Iowa Republicans say Bachmann's ties to the state would help her in the caucuses. Bachmann agreed.

"Oh, goodness, being born in Iowa gives every advantage. Every advantage a girl would want to have," she said.

Bachmann gave no indication when in June her announcement would come. She said she'll let people know very soon, though, whether she will participate in a 2012 GOP presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire on June 13.