From: Queen of the Tea Party
The presidential campaign of Michele Bachmann
Redacted from a fascinating, in-depth article
BY MATTHEW CONTINETTI
The Weekly Standard
July 4, 2011
… Energetic, charismatic, intelligent, and attractive, the 55-year-old Bachmann is no stranger to publicity. Since she arrived on the national scene in 2007, her prominence in the conservative movement has skyrocketed. In the world of talk radio and cable news, she possesses something like Most Favored Guest status. She plays the outside game, using media appearances to further the right’s agenda. She’s been featured in calendars of female conservative superstars. There’s even a Michele Bachmann action figure.
… Bachmann is a far more serious candidate for the Republican nomination than her reputation would suggest. She’s a talented fundraiser who raised $13.5 million for her 2010 reelection campaign. She’s a television star who appropriately tailors her message to her audience. Her combativeness will delight conservatives eager to fight Barack Obama. Her movement credentials—she founded the House Tea Party Caucus—put her at the cutting edge of right-wing politics. And in a primary campaign where authenticity counts, no other candidate has Bachmann’s unique history: an Iowa native who put herself through law school, raised her five children and took in 23 foster children, and has never lost an election for state or federal office.
Since 2009, millions of Americans have attended rallies, joined Tea Party groups, and become involved in politics. They’re scared for the future of the country, and they want to stop America’s decline. Many of these activists are parents or grandparents who simply weren’t political before government policies drove them into the arena. Michele Bachmann is uniquely positioned to speak to these voters—because she’s one of them.
… Michele Amble was born on April 6, 1956, in Waterloo, Iowa, the second of four children and the only girl. Her childhood was modest. Her parents owned a small home and rented out the top floor for income. Her father was studying to be an engineer. When Michele was four, the family moved into a three-bedroom rambler. “It was probably lower middle class,” she said, “and then, as families do, we moved up to middle class.” She was baptized and raised in the Lutheran church.
The Ambles come from Norwegian immigrants who arrived in America in the middle of the nineteenth century. They trace their roots in Iowa back seven generations. They were Democrats. The one Republican Michele knew well as a child was her paternal grandmother, a devoted Wall Street Journal and Time magazine reader who, like her other grandparents, worked in a factory. David Amble, Michele’s father, was the first in the family to go to college.
… She’d attended church as a child without really hearing what was said. Then, when she was 16, she made a commitment. She considers herself an evangelical Christian. As an adult, she’s attended both a Lutheran church and a nondenominational Christian church.
Her faith led her to some interesting places. The summer after she finished high school, Michele went to Israel and worked on a kibbutz. The trip was sponsored by Young Life, a Christian ministry. “I always had this love and appreciation for Israel because I was a Christian,” she said. “It’s the foundation of our faith. All of the Bible is about Israel.” She wanted to see the land for herself. What she found wasn’t a high-end vacation destination. She remembers the hurly burly of Ben Gurion airport, 1974: heat, soldiers with guns, customs officers at card tables on the tarmac. Chickens were everywhere. “It was pretty grubby,” she said.
The youth housing on the kibbutz was called the ghetto. Lizards climbed the walls. She would wake up at 4 a.m. and get on a flatbed truck that was pulled by an old diesel tractor. They would drive out to cotton fields to pull weeds. Armed soldiers escorted them wherever they went.
The experience has never left her mind. “If you consider what it was like in 1948,” she said, “and literally watch flowers bloom in a desert over time—I don’t know if any nation has paralleled the rise of Israel since 1948.” A member of Christians United for Israel, she’s one of Israel’s strongest supporters in Congress. One Jewish Minnesota Republican has told me of speeches at local Republican Jewish Coalition events where Bachmann has brought cheering audiences to their feet.
When she returned to the States, Michele enrolled at a community college near Anoka. Money was tight. She’d often work three jobs—school bus driver, restaurant hostess, all sorts of things. The following summer she went to Alaska, where she worked for an uncle who lived in the Aleutian Islands. Alaska’s oil boom was just beginning, and geologists scoured the rocks for signs of petroleum. Michele tarred roofs, cleaned fish, washed dishes, and cooked meals.
… And then went on to college, a husband, multiple kids and foster children and finally politics where she has now become deservedly, one of the front runners for the Republican nomination.
… Mrs. Bachman now uses television appearances to make news. When Bachmann walked onstage at the CNN debate in Goffstown on June 13, she had a plan. The stage was made of shiny metal, and surrounded by huge electronic screens filled with bright and endlessly changing graphics. The moderator, John King, asked each candidate to deliver a short introduction. Then the questions began. The first topic was economics. What would each candidate do to create jobs and growth?
Herman Cain answered first. Then Rick Santorum, then Tim Pawlenty, then Mitt Romney, then Newt Gingrich. Finally it was Bachmann’s turn. “Before I fully answer that,” she said, “I just want to make an announcement here for you, John, on CNN tonight.” Her eyes lit up.
“I filed today my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States,” she said. “And I’ll very soon be making my formal announcement. So I wanted you to be the first to know.”
Applause broke out. Bachmann beamed. The other candidates smiled nervously. And grassroots conservatives across America understood: The queen of the Tea Party had arrived.
(Please read the rest of this fascinating story in the Weekly Standard. July 4, 2011) jsk
Matthew Continetti is opinion editor of The Weekly Standard and author, most recently, of The Persecution of Sarah Palin.