Wednesday, 04 January 2012

Fading Bachmann Bows Out of GOP Presidential Bid

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Following a campaign that saw her fade rapidly from a front-running favorite to an “also-ran,” U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) threw in the towel on her presidential aspirations after a disappointing performance in the Iowa caucuses on January 3. Carrying a mere five percent of the vote in the GOP contest, Bachmann finished a dismal sixth behind front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, who shared 24.5 percent of the Iowa votes, as well as being far-outdistanced by Ron Paul (21.4 percent), Newt Gingrich (13.3), and even Rick Perry (10.3).

Late into the evening on the night of the caucuses had quoted Bachmann as saying that she would continue with her long-shot campaign. “I believe that I am that true conservative who can and who will defeat Barack Obama in 2012,” she told a small core of supporters. “What we need is a fearless conservative, one with no compromises on their record on spending, on healthcare, on crony capitalism, on defending America, on standing with our ally Israel.”

But at a hastily organized morning press conference on January 4, Bachmann announced her withdrawal from the race. “Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to step aside,” she declared with her family by her side. She added that she had “no regrets, none whatsoever. We never compromised our principles and we can leave this race knowing that we ran it with utmost integrity. We made a very important contribution to this race.”

The Associated Press noted that it had been “a long, deep slide for the Minnesota congresswoman, who enjoyed a high point in her campaign when she won a Republican straw poll in Ames, Iowa, in August.” But her campaign had steadily lost support, the AP report recalled, “beginning with Perry’s entry into the race on the day of her straw poll win.”

Like Bachmann, Perry also faded rapidly, and following his fifth place finish in the Iowa contest he headed back to Texas to “assess” the future of his own campaign.

Bachmann had been one of the beneficiaries of the Tea Party movement as she spoke out strongly for the repeal of both the ObamaCare health plan and the Dodd-Frank financial bailout. In her speech bowing out of the race she emphasized the continued importance of those issues, recalling that her decision to run in the first place had been prompted by the passage of the health plan, which she said endangered “the very survival of the United States of America.”

She said that she had felt an obligation “to ensure that President Obama’s program of socialized medicine was stopped before it became fully implemented.” She added that stopping the legislation, which she called the “playground of left-wing social engineering,” was “essential to the core of my conviction, because ObamaCare violates our fundamental liberties as Americans, including, for the first time in the history of our country, taxpayer-funded abortion.”

She insisted that although she was a representative by title, she never considered herself a politician, but came to Washington to serve as “the next stepping stone of passing on the torch of liberty.”

Bachmann said her run for the Presidency was founded on the conviction that “since day one Barack Obama’s policies, based on socialism, are destructive to the very foundation of the republic. And I ran because I wanted my children, and all the children of this country, to live free….”

In bowing out of the race, Bachmann promised that she would “continue fighting to defeat the President’s agenda of socialism,” and for “more liberty and less government.”

Warning that America “is in very serious trouble and this might be the last election to turn the nation around,” Bachmann said that it was important to “rally around the person” the Republican Party will ultimately select to run in the upcoming election.

As a social conservative, Bachmann was a near perfect fit for many conservative voters. In a profile of Bachmann appearing in August on The New American site, writer Jack Kenny noted that in her third congressional term, “Bachmann has continued to promote a pro-life, pro-family agenda and has voted consistently for a smaller, less intrusive federal government, operating within the bounds of constitutionally delegated authority.”

Kenny pointed out that Bachmann’s voting record in The New American’s first “Freedom Index” for the 112th Congress “shows her with a 90-percent ranking, having voted ‘right’ on nine out of 10 issues, ranging from repealing ObamaCare to defunding Planned Parenthood to ending American military action in Libya.”

But Bachmann was also an aggressive booster of America’s military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and appears to be on board with armed intervention in Iran as well. Kenny noted that during the 2007 debate over President Bush’s troop surge, Bachman argued that “radical Islamists” could defeat us only “if they crumple the resolve of America to fight and to win this war.”

Bachmann has given no indication of whom she will now back in the GOP race. Also, while aggressively pursuing her presidential run, she had suspended campaigning for a fourth term serving Minnesota’s sixth congressional district. Although she has not spoken about her plans, political observers have said that she would almost certainly be re-elected to that seat should she decide to run.

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