Just as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin winds down (or doesn’t) her “One Nation” bus tour, the oft-compared and actual presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) launches her own interstate travel.
Bachmann, who announced her intention to announce her presidential candidacy at the second Republican presidential primary debate last week in New Hampshire, will actually announce her campaign 9 a.m. Monday in Waterloo, Iowa.
The next day, it’s off to Manchester, NH, for a “backyard chat.” She’ll complete her triangle tour with a day and a half in South Carolina — for a couple meet-and-greets, yet another downhome chat in a backyard and a townhall.
The focus of the tour? According to a media advisory: “While meeting with voters, Bachmann will highlight important elements of her personal story and her journey to political life.”
Bachmann the politician impresses me — battle-tested, poised, authentic. Bachmann the person, the wife, the mother impresses me more — committed, generous, protective. I’m eager to learn more of “her personal story and her journey to political life.”
My only concern: It worries me that her strong personal credentials could give her campaign a kitschy vibe. As I wrote after the debate, she nearly turned her foster children into a talking point — inadvertently almost diminishing a sterling standalone accomplishment. (I say “almost” because, really, could any words diminish so strong a witness to hospitality, warmth and generosity?) Just enough of the personal Bachmann needs to permeate her candidacy to convey her charisma and general likability — but not too much, lest she become a “personality,” a kind of caricature, an influential force but a viable candidate no more.
Iowa, obviously, will be crucial for Bachmann — and this early announcement tour surely aims to make inroads there, as well as in two other important primary states. The projected friendly feel to the tour seems well-suited to that — but I hope Bachmann will also eventually adopt a broader focus for her primary campaign, touting time and time again all that she has accomplished in Congress. Those are the talking points voters need to hear. She’s fought too hard for conservative principles for far too long to just be “the female candidate” with an impressive personal history.