Rep. Michele Bachmann could prove less troublesome for House Republicans, and even helpful, as she shifts her attention from Capitol Hill to running for president and to her opponents in the GOP primary.
Supporters said the outspoken Minnesota Republican, periodically engaged in public disagreements with party leaders, was moving Tuesday to accelerate the formation of her presidential campaign team. Bachmann's top political hand in Iowa, state Sen. Kent Sorenson, said in a telephone interview that he and a handful of deputies were free to begin assembling a statewide volunteer network — much of which had been waiting in the wings — now that the Congresswoman has filed her candidate papers.
"Michele will be able to perform well and will catch fire. It's just a matter of getting her message out," Sorenson said.
Republicans on Capitol Hill predicted Bachmann's presidential candidacy could cause them fewer political problems than if she had decided against a White House bid. However, some have expressed concerns that the GOP candidates may create false expectations among the party's base regarding what Republicans can accomplish controlling only the House.
"Her candidacy is great for us because she's going to be focused on the presidential campaign — and not us," a senior House Republican aide said.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), a former House Member, said he does not expect Bachmann's campaign to create heartburn for Congressional Republicans, particularly because it is nearly impossible for the GOP to move an agenda beyond the Democratic Senate. Her presidential bid might even provide a boost, some Republican operatives argued.
"There will be plenty of times she likes what House Republicans are doing, and that will help us with the base," said one Republican campaign strategist with House clients.
Bachmann announced her candidacy Monday evening in New Hampshire, in the middle of the GOP presidential debate hosted by CNN. The Congresswoman received high marks from Republicans and political analysts — and not just because she exceeded low expectations. The often combative and confrontational Minnesotan came off as likable, knowledgeable and effective — elevating the stature of her three terms in the House.
For example, she presented herself as playing a major role in the defeat of the first vote on the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008. TARP is detested by tea party activists, who have worked to unseat Republicans who backed it to bail out Wall Street.
Bachmann is expected to be a strong candidate in the Iowa caucuses. She was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and raised in the Hawkeye State. And as a staunch social conservative, she offers an appealing political and personal profile to many Iowa Republicans. She made sure to point out during the debate that she is a mother and has been a foster parent to 23 children.