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Bachmann hints strongly at a 2012 run

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DES MOINES — It wasn’t an announcement, exactly, but an announcement of an announcement, which sounded pretty close to the same thing.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), whose flirtation with running for president has generated strong buzz among conservative activists in Iowa, told reporters Thursday night that she plans an “all-important announcement which will happen in the month of June, which I am pleased to tell you tonight will be made in Iowa. And I can also tell you that announcement will be made in the city where I was born, in Waterloo.”

Announced or not, her 2012 campaign sounds like it is already underway.

She noted that she is hiring staff in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the three states where voters will first cast ballots in the nominating process.

“We have our plans put in place,” she said. “We have our team. . . . It isn’t that we aren’t starting the effort. We are.”

Bachmann had been slated to speak Thursday to a Polk County GOP dinner, but she was held up in Washington by a House vote on reauthorization of the Patriot Act, forcing her to conduct her news conference by speakerphone with reporters in a hastily commandeered hotel conference room.

Bachmann later addressed several hundred Republican activists on a shaky video link. As she talked about the Patriot Act, the video went dark. She said she recorded the speech she had planned to deliver here, but because of technical difficulties could not play it at the dinner. She instead directed people to her Facebook page to watch the speech.

“I feel terrible about this, absolutely terrible,” Bachmann said, promising to “take a rain check.”

She said she was still hoping to make scheduled campaign appearances in Iowa on Friday.

Bachmann expressed confidence in her ability to raise the money it will take — to, as she put it, “wage a full-scale successful effort to be able to make it all the way to the White House. It will be daunting, but it can be done .”

Bolstering that confidence is her most recent Internet fundraising campaign, which brought in $260,000 in 30 hours earlier this week, according to her chief of staff, Andy Parrish.

Bachmann appeals to many of the same evangelical voters and tea party activists who also are drawn to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. But she said her own decision will not be influenced by Palin’s recent moves, which suggest the Republican Party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee is thinking more seriously about a run of her own.

“I consider Governor Palin a friend and I have great respect for Governor Palin, but I don’t believe that any two candidates are interchangeable,” Bachmann said. “Each one of us brings our own unique skill sets.”

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