Michele Bachmann inches toward 2012 run

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. gestures while addressing a Tea Party "Continuing Revolution Rally" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 31, 2011. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. gestures while addressing a Tea Party "Continuing Revolution Rally" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 31, 2011.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Michele Bachmann has hired Mike Huckabee's former Iowa political director, Minnesota Public Radio reports -- the latest sign that the Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party favorite is gearing up for entrance in the 2012 presidential race.

Wes Enos, who served as Huckabee's political director in Iowa during his 2008 presidential campaign, will be a consultant for Bachmann's MichelePAC, according to MPR.

Huckabee, the culturally-conservative former Iowa governor, was the upset winner of the Iowa caucuses in the 2008 cycle, besting Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and eventual GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

But a number of signs suggest he may sit out this campaign cycle. Enos is just the most recent former Huckabee staffer to sign on with a rival campaign: Cliff Hurst, Huckabee's New Hampshire co-chair, has signed on with Pawlenty. So has one of Huckabee's top operatives in Iowa in 2008, Eric Wollson. (His former campaign manager Chip Salzman, meanwhile, is now chief of staff for freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.) 

Bachmann, by contrast, has in recent weeks appeared to be moving ever closer to a presidential bid. She plans to form a presidential exploratory committee in June or earlier, and reported raising $2.2 million in the first quarter of 2011, demonstrating her exceptional prowess as a political fundraiser.

And while the controversial Tea Party star has yet to make her intentions official, some believe her entrance into the race could have a significant impact on the GOP presidential field.

"If Congresswoman Bachmann gets in, she has the potential to appeal to a lot of people who might have gone for Governor [Sarah] Palin," Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa told the New York Times. "Imagine if they both got in. That could make it really interesting."

Some believe that Palin and Bachmann, both socially-conservative Tea Party favorites, might hurt each other's chances in the primary if they both run, since they appeal to the same voters. Bachmann told the Times that other candidates' decisions would not likely factor into her own, however.

"We need a strong, bold constitutional conservative who won't back down and who will fight for the values we believe in," she said. "That's what we need for our nominee, whether it is me or whether it is someone else."

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