Wednesday, May 25, 2011


2012 Talk: So how glad is Michele Bachmann that she didn't plan on announcing her presidential run Thursday night in Des Moines for the Polk County Republicans dinner after all? What a debacle that would have been. Bachmann told us Thursday night, the idea had been discussed. But instead, she said she is now planning on making her announcement next month in Waterloo, her Iowa hometown (is there anyone in this entire state who DOESN'T think that announcement will be that she is running for president?).

I thought I'd share a little about how the day went. Around noon, MSNBC said something about the pending vote in Congress on extending the Patriot Act. That meant Bachmann could have a bit of a problem: does she skip the vote and honor her commitment in Iowa? Or does she stay in D.C. to vote and miss a chance to talk before several hundred Republican die-hards (and possibly tick them off)? People in both time zones tried to figure out a way she could do both. Bachmann's people arranged to have a private plane waiting in D.C. They had two scenarios. If it would be a late-night vote, Bachmann would fly into Des Moines for the dinner, jump back on the plane and vote in D.C. If the vote came late afternoon, she would vote first and then come to Des Moines. Forgive the phrase, but it all seemed up in the air for hours. And poor Kevin McLaughlin. If there's anyone I feel sorry for with all of this, it's he. He's the new Polk County Republican chairman. So he is in charge of the event. It's a headache enough to figure out a "plan B" if your headliner for the night may be a no-show, especially at 75 bucks a ticket. But Kevin had more pressing concerns. His wife was delivering their third son, George. Despite that, they did come up with a "plan B". Or maybe it was a "plan C or D" at that point.

They got Bachmann on the phone for a conference call with reporters about an hour before she was scheduled to speak (while the guests ate in the other room). That's when we heard from her that she would make her announcement in Waterloo. About an hour later, they Skyped her in. The idea may have been there. The execution wasn't. The computer screen froze with her image on it quite a few times as she tried to address the crowd. The audio was choppy. And the signal went down completely at one point. That brought groans from the crowd. I'm also a bit baffled why Bachmann chose to praise Donald Trump during her remarks. Trump? The same guy who had just hosed the Republican Party of Iowa by backing out of speaking before the record crowd for the Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines? (but did get NBC to up his paycheck for continuing "Celebrity Apprentice" before he announced he wouldn't run for president). I wonder if Bachmann knew all that had happened?

I would have loved to poll all the people in the room after the dinner. Did the whole event help or hurt Bachmann in their eyes? After all, that's what will matter come caucus time. Bachmann did "appear" (unlike the Donald). Do they give her props for staying in D.C. and doing her job by voting on the bill before Congress? Or do Iowans think she dissed them by staying out there for a vote that would have passed without her?

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