Marsha Blackburn to "test the waters" for 2016 presidential bid

This article originally appeared on RealClearPolitics.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. --
Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn will consider running for president in 2016 -- if she sees an opportunity to do so, an aide to the 7th District Republican told RealClearPolitics.

Blackburn is scheduled to be one of the speakers at a New Hampshire Republican rally this weekend but was not previously known to be mulling a White House bid.

"If there's a door to kick down, she's willing to kick it down," the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said. "These are the kinds of events you go to -- test the waters, and see what the reaction is."

Blackburn is a staunch social and fiscal conservative who was first elected to Congress in 2002, and a presidential run by her would be a long shot by any measure.

But with no women known to be plotting a 2016 bid on the Republican side, she has the potential to stir up the pot in a wide-open race for the nomination.

"There is kind of a void to fill there," the Blackburn aide said of the likely GOP presidential field. "Whenever there's been a need for leadership or someone to get out there and fight the fight, she's always been the first in line and she's not afraid of it. She's not afraid to go toe to toe with anybody."

Blackburn has in the past served as a campaign surrogate for national Republican candidates and frequently makes appearances on cable news shows. In February, she engaged in a memorable debate over climate change with Bill Nye on NBC's "Meet the Press," in which she argued that there is not a consensus on the issue in the scientific community.

Blackburn will speak on Saturday at the Manchester rally, which is being hosted by the conservative groups Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity.

The event will feature addresses by at least three other potential 2016 contenders: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"Marsha Blackburn has been a conservative warrior in the House and we are excited to see her here in the Granite State in front of many grassroots activists at the Freedom Summit," Citizens United President David Bossie said in a statement to RCP. "Marsha is a serious legislator who should not be overlooked on the national scene."


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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.

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