The Washington Post

Michele Bachmann, officially running for president

Michele Bachmann is expected to formally roll out her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination Monday in Iowa, where she will try to capi­tal­ize on the momentum she generated with her strong showing in last week’s GOP debate.

The kickoff will take place in or near Waterloo, the town where the Minnesota congresswoman was born, an Iowa source familiar with the event said Tuesday. She is expected to get a warm welcome because of her local ties, the source said, and because she is already popular among the social conservatives who make up much of the Republican base in that state.

The trip will be Bachmann’s first to the state since she officially announced her candidacy during the June 13 debate. It will be an opportunity for the Minnesota congresswoman to introduce herself to a public that knows little about her beyond the sharp-tongued critiques of President Obama she has delivered at tea party rallies and on cable news programs.

Since announcing her candidacy, she has tried to balance that bomb-throwing persona with the demands of a mainstream presidential campaign. On the trail, she has emphasized her experience as a tax attorney and a state and federal lawmaker, and highlighted her role as a wife and mother. She has focused primarily on the economy, crafting her speeches in a way that aims to connect with the financial struggles of average Americans.

She has largely avoided the gaffes that have marked some of her previous public remarks. However, she was criticized over the weekend for repeating some debunked statistics and “speculating” that Obama wanted Medicare to go broke in order to impose the health-care overhaul on senior citizens.

She faces an uphill battle, not only because she is a relatively unknown House member. But because she has some competition for the role of upstart outsider candidate eager to take on the front-runner for the nomination, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Many tea party activists are also taking a hard look at Godfather’s Pizza chief executive Herman Cain and libertarian hero Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Religious conservatives are not only intrigued by former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, they are also keeping an eye on Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry is contemplating a run. And former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has not yet said whether she will jump into the race.

Still, Bachmann will be a strong contender, especially in Iowa, the source said.

“I think Bachmann will have an incredible reception out here, more than we’ve seen for any other candidate to date,” he said. “I think people will take her on as a kind of favorite daughter.”

Sandhya Somashekhar is the social change reporter for the Washington Post.

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