Bachmann’s strongly conservative views propelled her into politics, and once there, she never backed down.
She was a suburban mother of five in 1999 when she ran for a Minnesota school board seat because she thought state standards were designed to teach students values and beliefs.
She lost that race, but won a state Senate seat a year later. Once in St. Paul, she seized on gay marriage as an issue and led a charge to legally define marriage in Minnesota as between one man and one woman. That failed, but Bachmann had laid the foundation with social conservatives to help propel her into Congress in 2006.
In Washington, she turned to fiscal issues, attacking Democrats and President Barack Obama for government bailouts and the health care overhaul. Even in her early years in Congress, Bachmann frequently took those views to right-leaning cable talk programs, cultivating her national image even as she built a formidable fundraising base with like-minded viewers outside Minnesota.
But her penchant for provocative rhetoric sometimes backfired. She was hammered in 2008 for saying Obama might have “anti-American views,” a statement that prompted a rare retreat by Bachmann and made her race that year closer than it would have been. She was also criticized by her fellow Republicans last July for making unsubstantiated allegations that an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had family ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Her White House bid got off to a promising start, with a win in an Iowa GOP test vote. But Bachmann quickly faded and finished last when the real voting started in Iowa’s leadoff caucuses, a result that caused her to drop out. Saddled with debt, Bachmann opted to campaign again for her Minnesota seat and squeaked through.
But the failed presidential campaign continued to dog her. Allegations of improper payments prompted ethics inquiries. Bachmann also faced a lawsuit from a former aide that alleged someone on the congresswoman’s team stole a private email list of home-school supporters for use in the campaign. That case is pending.
On Wednesday, Bachmann — a vocal opponent of the Obama administration — promised her supporters, “I will continue to work overtime for the next 18 months in Congress defending the same Constitutional Conservative values we have worked so hard on together.”
As for her plans beyond Congress, she said, “There is no future option or opportunity, be it directly in the political arena or otherwise, that I won’t be giving serious consideration if it can help save and protect our great nation.”
Bachmann’s success in the talk media world led industry analysts to say she could easily move into a gig as a host.
Bachmann has been mentioned as a potential challenger to first-term Democratic Sen. Al Franken, but she has given little indication that she would take that step.