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Tea Party's Michele Bachmann announces White House bid

Arch-conservative congresswoman Michele Bachmann announced on Monday she is seeking the Republican nomination for the 2012 US Presidential elections, saying the US "cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama".


AFP - Firebrand Republican Representative Michele Bachmann on Monday formally launched a bid for the White House, warning the United States "cannot afford four more years" of President Barack Obama.

"I seek the presidency not for vanity, but because I think America is at a crucial moment," Bachmann, a darling of the archconservative "Tea Party" movement, said in a speech to some 200 supporters in the key heartland state of Iowa.

The outspoken Minnesota lawmaker, 55, pointed to the swelling US national debt, soaring gasoline prices, historically high unemployment and took aim at Obama's signature health law, the target of conservative voter anger.

"We can't afford four more years of millions of Americans who are out of work," she said to voters in Iowa, home to a first-in-the-nation caucus that shapes the Republican presidential field. "We cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama."

"We can't afford the unconstitutional health care law that costs so much and delivers so little," said Bachmann, a prodigious political fundraiser who at times has raised eyebrows with superheated rhetoric and verbal missteps.

She was to tour Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, important states in the Republican presidential nomination fight, bolstered by a weekend poll showing her virtually tied in Iowa with frontrunner Mitt Romney.

Bachmann garnered 22 percent support among likely caucus participants compared to the former Massachusetts governor's 23 percent, according to the poll organized by the Des Moines Register newspaper.

Before the dramatic Iowa survey results, Bachmann, a darling of Christian conservatives, had averaged just seven percent of the vote in June surveys, far behind former Massachusetts governor Romney (26 percent), according to analyst Nate Silver.

The latest poll results show she is a serious contender for the Republican nomination, especially after she emerged as a clear victor in the first major debate among Republican presidential hopefuls on June 13.

Bachmann, who organized the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, stepped boldly into the 2012 White House race to challenge Obama by stealing the show at the Republican debate.

"Since the debate, people have paid attention and they've recognized that I am very serious about what I want to do, because the country is on the wrong track," Bachmann told "Fox News Sunday."

To the jubilant rally crowd Monday she pledged that "we can win in 2012 and we will," insisting that the Tea Party was not the right-wing side of the Republican Party, but rather "people who simply want America back on the right track again."

"I like her what I heard," gushed supporter Becky Bostwick, who attended the announcement rally with her five children.

"I can relate to it because I have five little kids and I'm worried about the future," she told AFP.

"I feel she is rational, she's smart, and she's competent to get us out of here. Some hard decisions have to be made."

One rival Sarah Palin, a Tea Party superstar who was the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, has kept people guessing on a possible presidential run.

In her absence, Bachmann hopes to sew up the sizeable support of the party's conservative wing.

Like Palin, the 55-year-old Bachmann is capable of blunders, including a claim that the first shots of the American Revolutionary War took place in New Hampshire, not Massachusetts.

She is the only woman so far to have declared a Republican bid, and despite remaining relatively unknown to the broader US public, her telegenic image could generate greater appeal.

As an example of the added scrutiny she now faces, the Los Angeles Times reported that the acclaimed fiscal conservative had benefited from government funds and federal farm subsidies.

Bachmann deflected the allegations, insisting neither she nor her husband had received public funds.

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