“Even when she goes over the top, the Minnesota congresswoman is eerily in tune with the grassroots. And the reason she’s so well situated is simple: Michele Bachmann was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool

“Rep. Steve King had been out pheasant hunting the week before with decorated war hero Colonel Bud Day. They’d talked about health care. Day urged King to call a rally outside the Capitol building. Jam the Capitol, Day said. Surround it. If you do that, he went on, the Democrats won’t be able to pass the bill.

“King related this conversation to Bachmann as they walked out of the Capitol after the meeting. Bachmann looked at King and asked, Can we do that? King said he couldn’t see why not. Let’s do it, Bachmann said. ‘We spent the weekend putting that together,’ King explained, ‘sending out emails and making phone calls and getting the talk radio people to light it up.’ The rally was held the following Thursday, November 5. Thousands of Tea Partiers showed up. ‘That’s when it was real clear,’ King said, ‘that Michele Bachmann had the instincts, charisma, and ability to move people.’

“Bachmann’s activism had found a new purpose: stopping the president. The contest over Barack Obama’s policies was the Profile of Learning controversy writ large. King and Bachmann organized another rally for March 20, 2010, when Congress passed Obamacare.

“This was the moment Bachmann began thinking of running for president.”

“After weeks of struggling to break out of the single digits, Bachmann has surged in recent polls. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is still the solid GOP frontrunner, but Bachmann has started to separate herself from the rest of the pack.

“A Rasmussen Reports poll taken right after Bachmann’s debate performance showed her rising to 19 percent, in second place behind Romney at 33 percent. A subsequent poll in Florida taken June 16-19 by Public Policy Polling also showed Bachmann surging into a tie for second place with Sarah Palin — who has not announced a presidential bid. Though the poll only questioned Republicans in one state, the results showed Bachmann’s support climbing from 7 to 17 percent since March. If Palin were taken out of the mix, PPP found Bachmann picking up the bulk of her support and gliding even closer to Romney.

“Meanwhile, an Associated Press-GfK poll released this week showed her favorability rating jumping from 41 percent to 54 percent among Republicans, though one third did not have an opinion of her.”

“The $350 that Hornung has donated is a tiny fraction of the $13.5 million Bachmann hauled in for her 2010 race — more than any other candidate for Congress. But donors such as Hornung are the main supply line for a fund-raising machine that is humming as Bachmann begins her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination…

“Of the nearly $12.9 million Bachmann raised from individuals in the last election, more than half came from people giving less than $200. While Obama was cheered for the legion of small donors who contributed to his campaign, only about a fourth of Obama’s $750 million take in 2008 came from such donors, according to a Campaign Finance Institute analysis.

“Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, seen as the early leader on the GOP side, gathered about 80 percent of his campaign cash during his 2008 presidential bid from donors who gave $1,000 or more.”

“Republican Michele Bachmann’s campaign is lifting off quite a bit later than those of other candidates who have been roaming the state for months, and it’s raising questions about her blueprint for success in Iowa.

“Unlike fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty, who is arguably her chief competition in Iowa, Bachmann has yet to open an office here or reveal details about campaign staff. She hasn’t set foot in Iowa in nearly a month – and she’s 18 Iowa visits behind Pawlenty…

“‘Hard-to-get might be a great strategy to land a husband, but it’s not a great strategy to win over a voter,’ said Steve Deace, a former radio host whose commentary influenced conservative caucusgoers during the last presidential election cycle. ‘She should have come to Iowa immediately – sort of planted the flag.'”

“‘Iowa is not just another state on the presidential campaign trail,’ the announcer says to a peppy tune. ‘For Michele Bachmann, Iowa will always be home. Born and raised in Waterloo, Michele Bachmann has deep roots here, and our town holds a special place in her heart.’

“Bachmann’s voice cuts in, inviting first-in-the-nation-caucus-going Iowans to a rally at the famous Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, on the eve of her inaugural presidential kickoff on Monday.

“‘Let’s make history together in Waterloo,’ she says.”

“If former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin opted in, watching her and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota tangle would be worth the price of admission. That bout is unlikely to materialize, but a Perry-Bachmann fight for supremacy among social conservatives and tea party Republicans would also be entertaining. Both have the potential to raise a lot of money, motivate armies of passionate conservatives, and run no-holds-barred campaigns aimed at the two-thirds of Republicans who prefer their politics unvarnished and undiluted. Even though Bachmann and Perry would be going after the same market, that hard-core space in the GOP is large enough to prolong the fight for a while.

“The potential for Perry and Bachmann to suck all the conservative oxygen out of the campaign is great, and their rivals for the right side of the GOP bracket, such as businessman Herman Cain and former Sen. Rick Santorum, will have to fight for attention. Just as the battle between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008 left their nomination rivals gasping for air and attention, a Bachmann-Perry duel could have the same effect in the more conservative and larger of the two GOP tournament brackets…

“The obvious danger for Bachmann and Perry is that they might move too far to the right in trying to outflank each other. In that case, whoever wins the one-on-one game could realize only a Pyrrhic victory–unable to make a convincing case that he or she could attract enough moderate voters to defeat Obama. So the question for Bachmann and Perry may be less about how conservative they are and more about where they will end up after fighting it out among themselves.”

“But, when you get right down to it, he, and, and, and, and Mitt Romney are the, are the two Ken dolls in the, in the, in the Republican race. You got Michele Bachmann who is Barbie with fangs.”