Bachmann officially makes it official

It’s not news, but it is official (which makes this one of those “obligatory” posts of which Allah is so fond). Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) today formally announced her intention to seek the presidency of the United States.

Speaking before a hometown crowd at the historic Snowden House in her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa, Bachmann outlined just why the nation can’t afford another four years under the administration of President Barack Obama — why, in other words, The One must become The-One-Term-President. In her words:

We cannot continue to rack up debt on the backs of future generations. We can’t afford an unconstitutional health plan that costs too much and is worth so little. And we can’t afford four more years of failed leadership at home and abroad. We can’t afford four more years of millions of Americans out of work or in jobs that pay too little to support their families. We can’t afford four more years of a housing crisis that is devaluing our homes and making home ownership impossible for many Americans. We can’t afford four more years of a foreign policy that leads from behind and doesn’t stand up for our friends and stand up to our enemies. We can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama.

The line proved effective at the primary debate in New Hampshire two weeks ago and it has since become Bachmann’s catchphrase: “Barack Obama is a one-term president!”

But Bachmann spoke just as smoothly about who she is, rightfully reiterating her work in Congress and confidently claiming her connection to the Tea Party:

In Washington, I am bringing a voice to the halls of Congress that has been missing for a long time. It is the voice of the people I love and learned from growing up in Waterloo. It is the voice of reasonable, fair-minded people who love this country, who are patriotic and who see the United States as the indispensable nation of the world.

My voice is part of a movement to take back our country, and now I want to take that voice to the White House. It is the voice of constitutional conservatives who want our government to do its job and not ours and who want our government to live within its means and not our children’s and grandchildren’s. 

I am here in Waterloo, Iowa, to announce today: We can win in 2012 and we will. Our voice has been growing louder and stronger. And it is made up of Americans from all walks of life like a three-legged stool. It’s the peace through strength Republicans, and I’m one of them, it’s fiscal conservatives, and I’m one of them, and it’s social conservatives, and I’m one of them. It’s the Tea Party movement and I’m one of them.

The liberals, and to be clear I’m NOT one of them, want you to think the Tea Party is the Right Wing of the Republican Party. But it’s not. It’s made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who’ve never been political a day in their life, libertarians, Republicans. We’re people who simply want America back on the right track again.

Her speech sounded the right note — and, so far, it seems like Iowans like her. A new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll of likely participants in the state’s Republican presidential caucuses showed Bachmann neck-and-neck with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney garnered 23 percent of the vote. Bachmann, close behind, garnered 22 percent.

At least one political analyst finds that notable. “The surprise here is how quickly Michele Bachmann is catching on,” Jennifer Duffy, a political analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report of Washington, D.C. said in a blog post on the Des Moines Register website. “To me, she’s the one to watch, not Romney.”

Of course, it’s still very early. According to the same post, just 14 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers say their minds are made up about their choice in the presidential race. Another 14 percent don’t have a first choice yet. Sixty-nine percent say they could be persuaded to support a candidate other than their first choice.

Should Texas Gov. Rick Perry decide to run, for example, early polls in Iowa could be completely moot. As conservative columnist George Will put it on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, “Iowa is made for a showdown between Rick Perry, who has Texas job creation, to match Romney and he has Michele Bachmann’s rapport with Evangelical Christians, who are 60 percent of the participants in the Iowa caucuses.” That is, Perry might be able to appeal equally to fiscal and social conservatives, whereas a candidate like Bachmann tends to be pinned to social issues, however unfairly (she did, for example, stand firm against TARP, even when other conservatives caved).

Plus, Bachmann still has to contend with a popular perception that she somehow lacks seriousness. Just yesterday, for example, as was much discussed, Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked her directly, “Are you a flake?” — a question no other candidate seems likely to have to field. (Wallace later apologized.)

But Bachmann’s making inroads — and, as always, her words and actions speak for themselves.