Dossier: Michele Bachmann

Political resume: Michele was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 2000, serving three two-year terms before seeking and winning the Minnesota 6th District U.S. House seat she currently holds in 2006. She announced her Presidential bid during a candidates debate on June 13. has her pegged as fifth among nine Republican Presidential candidates; however, she has lost significant ground since the entry of Rick Perry into the race and polls about 7 percent.

On campaign finance/election reform (three points): Michele has a limited voting record and comments on the issue, but her positions are fine so I’ll kick her off with one point of three.

On property rights (five points): Bachmann cited Fifth Amendment rights in castigating the BP settlement. I think she knows government’s place in this regard, so I’m giving her four of five points.

On the Second Amendment (seven points): On Second Amendment issues, Michele gets high marks from both of the two main gun lobbying groups (Gun Owners of America and National Rifle Association) and applauded recent Supreme Court decisions upholding the Second Amendment. She gets the seven points.

On education (eight points): Michele’s  voting record on the issue is spotty, so while she wants to abolish the Department of Education, I found a little bit of fault with some of her votes. I’m giving her six of eight points.

On the Long War/veterans affairs (nine points): I like what Michele has to say about national security. And while veterans groups gripe about this proposal, it makes sense to avoid double-dipping, at least for the time being. I’m giving eight of nine points.

On immigration (eleven points): She has the right idea about securing the borders on her campaign site, but Bachmann goes no further as to how. Enforcement of existing law would be a good start, though. The anti-immigration group Numbers USA ranks her highest among GOP candidates, and while I don’t completely agree with their overall stance on the issue it’s a good indicator she’ll do what’s right for Americans. I’ll give her nine points.

On energy independence (twelve points): She does a nice job of stating the problem, but Bachmann would do well toexpand her palette of solutions. Indeed, government needs to get out of the way but maybe I’d like a little more. Her voting record is solid, though, so I’ll give her ten points.

On entitlements (thirteen points): Michele has as her “number one priority” to repeal Obamacare, and decries the “entitlement mentality” many Americans have. She advocated “reform” before she got into the Presidential race, and what she said is a pretty good start. Yet when Rick Perry called Social Security a ‘Ponzi scheme’ she was quick to call him out on it, so I don’t know if her heart would be into reforming that dying program. Six points.

On trade and job creation (fourteen points): Like many of her counterparts, Michele is a free trader. But she differs in that she doesn’t have a specific pro-growth plan yet, aside from the boilerplate reduction of regulations and government. This hurts her because she’s already got a reputation as more of a generalist than a policy wonk. I can only give her seven points in this vital category.

On taxation and the role of government (fifteen points): It’s ironic that Michele once worked for the IRS but has called for a fairer, simpler, and flatter tax system where everyone pays a little bit. To me, that actually makes sense – isn’t the idea to have everyone with a little “skin in the game”? And Michele is on target with the general critique of “crony capitalism,” I just wish she’d point out more examples of Obama doing this than Rick Perry. She has also expressed support for the FairTax but hasn’t taken the steps to back it. While she’s a TEA Party darling, I’m not sure she’s shown the bold leadership we need so I’ll give her only 12 of 15 points.

Intangibles (up to three points): Michele signed the Family Leader Pledge, which is a mixed bag: it shows she’s pro-life and for marriage between one man and one woman, but calls for its enshrinement in the Constitution, which I don’t agree with. However, she’s also a reliable supporter of Israel so I can give her a point for that. But the verbal gaffes! They are a problem, and it makes me wonder if she always thinks before she speaks. Yes, I know many candidates make them but she seems to be more susceptible and the press is quick to call her out on them. As such, she’ll net one point here.

Total (maximum, 100 points): Michele just misses the top spot, grabbing 71 of 100 points. In all honesty, though, there were a number of places I could have awarded her an additional point or two so she’s become one of three candidates thus far who are essentially tied for the lead, and the highest in the polls.

I know Michele is right on the issues, for the most part. But there’s just a lack of specifics and that tendency to speak before she thinks which makes some hesitant to back her fully. In many respects, she’s living the life Sarah Palin did once she was selected as John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee, and the microscope has been particularly harsh on her (as opposed to Barack Obama, who really needed this sort of scrutiny before his nomination.)

And like Herman Cain, who was once the flavor of the month before sinking in the polls, Michele has seen her top-tier spot eroded quickly by Rick Perry’s entry into the race. Over the last few weeks, she’s gone from double-digit support to a spot right around seven percent or so. The drop coincides with Perry’s entry, so she lost her seat as the anti-Romney and fell back into the second tier. The situation would have been worse had Sarah Palin entered the race, but as time goes on that becomes less and less likely.

Still, there’s a reason no President since James Garfield in 1880 has won election as a sitting House member. While House members are well-known within their districts, they often don’t have a national platform from which to speak. Bachmann has created and heads the TEA Party Caucus in the House, but still doesn’t have the name recognition most of her opponents who are elected on a statewide basis do. In this election cycle it’s not likely she’ll be the nominee, but she is laying the groundwork for a future campaign should she choose to do so. I suspect she may get to Super Tuesday in decent shape, but it’s not very likely she’ll have the horses to proceed much further unless she can pull off a win in Iowa. That’s not out of the question for Michele Bachmann, though.

Author: Michael

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