ABC News’ Russell Goldman reports:
Rep. Michele Bachmann used the opening seconds of tonight’s first Republican debate to make news: She’s officially seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
The Minnesota congresswoman was invited to the debate as an undeclared candidate, despite ample evidence that she was planning a White House bid, and she used the first question posed to her to announce she had officially filed to run.
“I filed today my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency,” she said in response to question about job growth.
Bachmann, who has said she would announce her decision in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, later this month, added that an official kickoff is still to come.
“Our country needs a leader who understands the hardships that people across America have been facing over the past few years, and who will do what it takes to renew the American dream,” Bachmann said. “We must become a strong and proud America again, and I see clearly a better path to a brighter future.
“For these reasons, earlier this evening I instructed my team to file the necessary paperwork to allow me to seek the office of President of the United States.”
In a statement emailed soon after her announcement, Bachmann’s team said the official declaration would come in the “coming weeks” and the congresswoman had suspended her congressional campaign.
Bachmann’s announcement earned her the first blog and wire service headlines of the evening, stealing the initial thunder from frontrunners like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty.
Bachmann, head of the House Tea Party Caucus, has made a name for herself among the GOP’s activist grassroots wing. Those supporters have contributed millions of dollars to her campaign in small donations.
In 2010 she raised $13.5 million in the most expensive Congressional race in history.