Bachmann is Filling the Palin Void
One hypothesis that I have been considering for quite a while now is the idea that Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is quietly (for her) and systematically filling the electoral space that many political observers thought would be occupied by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the 2012 presidential election cycle. After spending almost an hour with Bachmann yesterday as part of WKXL News Radio’s Road to the White House series, I am more convinced of this idea than ever, especially in light of Palin’s odd campaign bus caravan/family vacation, which is rumored to be headed our way.
No, I don’t think that Bachmann will be the Republican nominee (and she certainly doesn't have Palin's nearly universal name recognition), but she seems focused on moving the building blocks of a legitimate campaign into place both here and in Iowa, in a way that Palin most definitely is not. When I pressed Bachmann on how she would connect with Tea Party-leaning libertarians in New Hampshire who frequently vote Republican, but who are also suspicious of her social and religious conservatism, she acknowledged the need to look for common ground with these voters as a prerequisite for doing well in the Granite State. Bachmann’s answer at least demonstrated a willingness to think flexibly and strategically about campaigning, which is something that I don’t always encounter with movement politicians like her.
My colleague Chris Ryan correctly pointed out during yesterday’s show that there is no reason why the Republican presidential campaign can have only one socially conservative female voice in the race. This is certainly true, but unfortunately my guess is that much of the media will continue to write that particular narrative anyway. So, for all the friendly words that Bachmann had for Palin yesterday, she clearly understands the need to stake her claim to that distinctive voice.

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