Opinion: Michele Bachmann has not yet clinched the GOP nomination, as best we can tell for now
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Yes, yes, Mitt Romney is still in the Republican race. And Ron Paul. And Tim Pawlenty. And probably Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum for all any news consumers know.
It just seems like the men have been plunked down on some distant island set for ‘Survivor: Tampa Bay.’
The guys are all gasping for media oxygen this week as Congresswoman Michele Bachmann rolls out her campaign for the GOP nomination. And Sarah Palin still doesn’t.
Although we did get Sarah Palin at the Sarah Palin movie premiere with husband Todd. In Iowa, too. If you can believe the coincidence.
As it does with female political candidates, especially conservative ones, the media has focused on Bachmann’s mis-speaks about the essential location of where a dead movie actor was born. Next come diminishing notations on her clothes, hair and what she can see from her front porch in Minnesota.
Maybe one day Bachmann will even refer to the president of Canada, which doesn’t have one. Wouldn’t that be stupid for a lawyer aspiring to the White House? Oh, wait. That was Barack Obama in a Democratic candidate forum back in 2007. Didn’t get much coverage for some reason.
But the Bachmann camp has to be pleased with the initial rollout. She’s virtually tied with Romney in last weekend’s respected Des Moines Register Iowa Poll with a fraction of his negatives.
Following her impressive performance in the opening New Hampshire Republican debate earlier this month, Bachmann scored a media coup Tuesday on her first full campaign day.
From the same room in Manchester, N.H., she was on five (5!) morning shows, speaking directly to millions of Americans preparing for their day when the breakfast crowd doesn’t so much watch TV as listen to it. And all for free.
Not only that but Mark McKinnon, the savvy state and national campaign veteran for candidates in both parties, gave Bachmann an excellent review in a widely-read Daily Beast piece.
And McKinnon warned her critics to ignore the media’s reflexive gaffe-itis coverage and take the top House fundraiser seriously.
Meanwhile, Gallup reports Bachmann now enjoys a 69% name recognition, up from 52% in February. And she ties with Cain for the highest Positive Intensity Score of any GOP candidate Gallup tracks.
Our colleague Kate O’Hare will examine that quintet of Bachmann morning show interviews closer here in a few hours. But Bachmann parried other queries while getting out her bio message: long marriage, small business owner, mother of five, foster mother of 23, tax litigation attorney, legislator, returning Americans to control of Washington.
Then, she took her tea party message on to enthusiastic crowds in South Carolina, leaving in her trail a new Suffolk University Poll showing a significant gain for her. Bachmann surged from virtually nothing (3%) in May to 11% now, the largest gain by any GOP candidate.
She’s still far behind the 36% of Romney, who gained only one point this month, and has begun to separate herself from other Republicans, none of whom are in double digits.
Meanwhile, a new Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters finds only 9% say they are unwilling to vote for a woman as president. Fully 82% now say they would. That’s up from 71% in early 2008.
Interestingly, almost three-out-of-four (73%) now say a female U.S. president is likely within 10 years, when Hillary Clinton will be only 74.
Speaking of presidents, the current one felt the need to also be in Iowa Tuesday.
It seems that 66% of Americans believe their country is on the wrong track under his leadership, nevermind the unauthorized war against Libya.
So, in optimistic way-to-go remarks to aluminum workers, the Democrat pleaded for more time for someone to do something about creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the nation because things were so bad when he took over 2 1/2 years ago and promised immediate improvement with the humongous stimulus spending bill that was for sure going to keep unemployment below 8% but didn’t.
Obama will have a hard time winning Iowa’s electoral votes next year, which makes other Midwestern states even more important, although many now have Republican governors.
Speaking of Republicans, Sarah Palin -- who isn’t running for anything, you understand -- felt the need to show up in Iowa too.
In little old Pella, which is southeast of Des Moines and southwest of Malcom, a lovely community that misspells its name. The occasion was the galactic premiere of the movie ‘The Undefeated’ about the successful parts of Palin’s life and career.
If Palin is not running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, why would she ever choose to be in rural Iowa when the humidity can exceed the temperature? On the other hand, if she is running, why hasn’t she contacted any party organizers or caucus workers?
Sounds like a mystery sequel.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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