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Reps. Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul Have Truancy Problems

In Bids for Presidency, Lawmakers Tally High Total of Missed Votes

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Michele Bachmann has voted 54 percent of the time since announcing her presidential bid June 13 — missing 150 votes.

Since announcing their respective presidential bids, GOP Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Ron Paul (Texas) have had a truancy problem in the House, where they still represent about 600,000 people each.

But it's Bachmann who might have some explaining to do to her constituents in Minnesota's 6th district; she has voted only 54 percent of the time since announcing her presidential bid June 13 missing 150 votes and every vote during the month of September, according to data compiled by Congressional Quarterly.

It is common for presidential candidates who also serve in Congress to miss a lot of votes. President Barack Obama missed more than 40 percent of Senate votes during a similar point in his campaign, for example.

Bachmann is notable particularly because she has missed significantly more House votes than Paul, another second-tier presidential candidate with a similarly small but enthusiastic base of supporters.

Only Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have participated in fewer votes. Boehner doesn't vote because Speakers typically don't, Hinchey was recovering from surgery for cancer, and Giffords has voted only once since she was she was shot
Jan. 8 in Arizona.

Paul, who announced his candidacy a month before Bachmann, has participated in 84 percent of House roll-call votes, according to CQ. Eight Members have worse records than him during that period; ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) is one of them.

Bachmann's campaign has been in free fall in the polls since peaking around the middle of July. She won the Ames straw poll in mid-August, narrowly besting Paul. In a recent Fox News poll, Paul drew
6 percent support, while Bachmann posted only 3 percent. According to that poll, both candidates have lost ground since mid-August, with Bachmann slipping 5 points and Paul slipping 2.

The gap in voting attendance is also notable because Paul has announced he is retiring from the House at the end of the 112th Congress and presumably doesn't need to worry about his absenteeism. Bachmann, on the other hand, has left the door open to running for re-election should her presidential bid end.

The last time Bachmann voted was Aug. 1 a "no" vote on the debt ceiling deal. It was around the peak of her support when Bachmann stopped voting almost altogether.

By missing votes, Bachmann might have missed opportunities to highlight her "leadership" in Congress, which she has touted on the campaign trail. Alternatively, the votes could also have opened up political liabilities, sources said.

One Republican strategist with Capitol Hill and presidential campaign experience said whether candidates show up to vote is generally inconsequential, although particular votes can help them frame their campaign message.

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