WASHINGTON (AFP) – Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann plans to launch her Republican presidential bid late on Sunday with a tour of key primary states Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
The Minnesota representative is returning to her roots to kick off her campaign in her native city of Waterloo, Iowa.
After stepping boldly into the 2012 White House race to challenge President Barack Obama by stealing the show at the first major Republican debate on June 13, Bachmann hopes to captivate voters in the three states she will cross over three days.
Her rival Sarah Palin, a Tea Party superstar who was the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, has yet to announce her intentions about a possible presidential bid. In her absence, Bachmann hopes to score a hold on the conservative wing of the party.
Bachmann, like her male Republican contenders Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, New Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain, has narrowed her attacks on Obama.
The 55-year-old congresswoman has already challenged the president on everything from health care reform and the soaring US deficit to the military intervention in Libya.
“I want to announce tonight: President Obama is a one-term president,” she told the audience at the Republican debate in New Hampshire.
Just like Palin, Bachmann has long been criticized for her blunders, including a claim that the first shots of the American Revolutionary War took place in New Hampshire, not Massachusetts. But she has been more cautious in her recent public appearances.
She is the only woman so far to have declared a Republican bid, and despite remaining relatively unknown to the broader US public, her telegenic image could generate greater appeal.
Founder and chair of the Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives, Bachmann toes the traditional line of American conservatism.
She hopes to repeal Obama’s landmark health care reforms, saying at the debate: “As president of the United States, I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare. It’s a promise.” The mother of five children, Bachmann is fiercely opposed to abortion.
But leaning too far right could also hinder her chances of courting independent or centrist Republican voters.
Bachmann’s response to Obama’s State of the Union address in January already stirred controversy from within the Republican Party for accepting an invitation from a Tea Party group to provide an alternative Republican perspective, and for the video in which she appeared to be staring off to the side.
And she averaged just seven percent of the vote in June polls, far behind current Republican favorite Romney (at 26 percent), according to analyst Nate Silver. Palin, who has not yet declared, still held sway over 12 percent of voters.
But Silver acknowledged that Bachmann’s poll numbers had still improved from two months ago, when they stood at just four percent. On his blog FiveThirtyEight, he noted that one of the surveys held right after the Republican debate put Bachmann at 19 percent.
A closely watched Des Moines Register poll of Iowa put Bachmann atop the Republican field in the first-in-the-nation primary state, along with Romney.
The survey, released Saturday, put national frontrunner Romney at 23 percent and Bachmann at a near-match with 22 percent.
“It’s hard to say exactly how much value Republicans will place on electability. But ‘extreme’ candidates… have received their party’s nominations before, and the conditions for a repeat of these circumstances are probably better than average,” Silver wrote.
“My view is that there is about a one-in-five chance that Mr Obama will benefit from running against such a candidate, with Ms Bachmann being the most likely of those alternatives.”