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I had a sneaking suspicion that Michele Bachmann’s presidential race was about ready to fold when her children showed up with her during interviews right before the Iowa Caucuses. When candidates start appearing with their extended family mid-campaign, it’s almost never a good sign.
Bachmann finished next to last in the Iowa Republican Caucuses last night. And even though she said she was going to stay in the race for the South Carolina primary, no one was really surprised on the morning after that she announced she was dropping out.
Iowa-born Bachmann kicked butt in the Iowa Straw Poll last summer, coming in first ahead of all the men candidates. But that was the high point of her campaign, even though many people thought those conservative “mama grizzlies” left over from Sarah Palin’s heydey would turn out for her. But when the Congresswoman from Minnesota only ended up with a sixth-place finish and just five percent of the vote, barely ahead of Jon Huntsman who didn’t even campaign in the state, it was clear that her presidential dreams were at an end.
Whether you’re a fan of Bachmann or not, it’s hard to see the last woman in the race go. One has to wonder whether Bachmann’s withdrawal from the campaign will cause women voters to feel less invested in the 2012 race now that the remaining events and debates will feature only men in suits. Odds are that Bachmann knew the writing was on the wall for some time -- she lost her advisor and political kingmaker Ed Rollins back in September, and then just after Christmas her Iowa Chairman defected for the Ron Paul campaign. As the woman who created the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, when she didn’t convince Iowa tea partiers that she could win a race against President Obama there really was nowhere for her to go. And one Iowa mom who caucused says ultimately Bachmann contributed to her own undoing because she was reluctant to take questions at campaign events and had little to say on the agricultural issues important to so many Iowans.
Bachmann spent most of her farewell speech waxing lyrical about the Founding Fathers, but she made sure to get in some jabs against President Obama and what she called his “socialist” ideas, saying that she would continue working to help repeal the Affordable Care Act, which she proclaimed had been the impetus for her to run for president.
So the speculation now turns to who Bachmann will endorse for president. Regardless of what you think about her political views, Bachmann is a smart cookie. There’s no point in any endorsement now, especially if she’s entertaining any thoughts of being someone’s vice presidential pick down the road. A Romney/Bachmann ticket perhaps? Bachmann has boasted that she has a “titanium spine” and has compared herself to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Whether those comparisons are apt or not, Bachmann’s retreat today can only be seen as a strategic move worthy of her “Iron Lady” idol.
Do you think Bachmann should have suspended her presidential campaign? Do you think she’d make a good vice president?
iVillage contributor Joanne Bamberger writes about the intersection of motherhood and politics at her blog, PunditMom. She is the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America, which is on sale now at Amazon.com.