Rep. Michele Bachmann: Why She’s On the Presidential Trail

By Kate McCarthy

Feb 17, 2011 9:26am

She's been to Iowa several times. South Carolina this weekend. New Hampshire next month. So I asked Michele Bachmann this morning why’s she’s spending so much time in these early primary states.

“I’m trying to set the table, if you will, because these voters are vital in these early states,” the Minnesota Republican said.

Bachmann’s not ready to formally get in the race – unlike Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney – who will formalize their candidacies over the next couple of months.

Consider this her version of the “listening tour” pioneered by Hillary Clinton before her 2000 Senate race.

“I haven’t made a decision about whether or not I’m going to engage,” Bachmann said. “I really just want to just talk to the people that in these early primary states and listen to them.”

But what does Bachmann bring to the race that Gingrich, Romney and her fellow Minnesotan Pawlenty don’t?

“What I bring is the prospective of being here on the front lines of Washington, D.C. where all the decision that have been made over the past four years that have radically changed our country and for many Americans they believe we are not going down the right track right now,” Bachmann said. “So I want to take that information out into these different early primary states to listen to people.”

A new member of the House Intelligence Committee, Bachmann was careful when I asked her how a President Bachmann’s approach to the upheaval across the Middle East would differ from President Obama’s.

“I think there are some principles that I would focus on. Number one, my first question would be what are the vital American interests in the region. Number two, what would best be done to secure the safety of the American people.  I think third, my interests would be what is the long term view of the Middle East, we’re looking at a historic shift and instability in the middle east region that isn’t just one nation but this is impacting a multiplicity of nations,” she said. “So I think we need to have a long term perspective.”

Watch my interview here:

George Stephanopoulos

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