Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a candidate in the GOP presidential primary, made an appearance Saturday morning at the tailgate party preceding the annual ISU/Iowa football game. It was a typically folksy political campaign move, and the congresswoman looked very nice in a custom-made mash-up Hawkeye/Cyclone jersey that said “Bachmann” on the backÂ—to signify that she was neutral and rooting for both teams. It was a pretty successful event for Bachmann, and a clear attempt to make hay out of the meaningless Ames straw poll that she won on August 13th. She merely squeaked by Texas congressman Ron Paul, and the current frontrunner, Texas Governor Rick Perry, had not yet entered the race. In fact, most assume that he purposely waited until after the straw poll nonsense was over to enter the race for the White House. The other current frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, ignored the festivities surrounding the straw poll completely, only traveling to Iowa because there was a Fox News debate the previous Thursday.
It’s understandable why Michele Bachmann would try to make as much political hay as possible out of her straw poll win, particularly since Iowa is her home state (she was born in Waterloo) and since she has so little else from which to make that hay according to early poll numbers. However, Americans should remember just how early it really is. American politics turn on a dime, and though there was nothing particularly exciting about Michele Bachmann flipping burgers and tossing beanbags at a college football tailgate party, it’s innocuous occasions like this that can build morale for a campaign and drive a candidate to the topÂ—particularly if there are major missteps by candidates who peak too soon. Governor Perry should be worried about that.
Bachmann’s statements reflect this idea, as she told The Des Moines Register, “We’ve been in Iowa 70 days and what we’ve been known for is our time with people and talking with people. That’s why we’re here today with people again. And we’re here for football. We love Iowa.” To her credit, Michele Bachmann does seem like a frontrunner for the Iowa caucus next yearÂ—though Iowa GOP voters are notoriously conservative, and their pick of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in 2007 gave no heads-up to the Republican party that their eventual nominee would be Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Early as it may be, there is a whiff of desperation in Bachmann’s singular focus on Iowa while frontrunners Perry and Romney do significantly more travel.