Much of America was introduced to Bachmann during the 2008 presidential campaign when she shared her apprehensions about then-candidate Obama's "anti-American views." This obscures the fact that she'd been elected to office two years earlier and has held her seat in Congress for the past four years.
Of the GOP frontrunners, only Bachmann is in office. Amid the GOP field, only she, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter are still elected officials.
Unlike frontrunner Romney, though, Bachmann's been re-elected. Twice. Granted, the first reelection in 2008 was by a three-point margin in a race featuring an independent candidate who sucked up 10% of the vote, but that margin expanded to 12 points in her win last year and was still a better showing than Romney Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy, who lost to current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick by 21 points that same year after Romney quit.
It's also allowed Bachmann to put her record on the line and make claims her GOP foes can't. Romney, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty can lash out against bailouts for Wall Street, banks and automakers, but Bachmann actually voted against all of them. Sideline sitters such as Perry and Sarah Palin can screech about "Obamacare" all they'd like, but Bachmann opposed the health care legislation as well. The entire field can bemoan the Dodd-Frank changes to financial regulation, but only Bachmann introduced legislation to repeal it that was strong enough to earn the endorsement of California Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House's oversight and reform committee.Economic clout
Bachmann isn't railing against Obama's health care plan and Congress' financial regulations from the sidelines. She launches her criticism as a former tax attorney who now sits on the House financial services committee's subcommittees on international monetary policy and trade and on oversight and intelligence. It's given Bachmann a bully pulpit for her stance against the minimum wage that she's held since serving in the Minnesota State Senate. Bachmann has since proposed dropping the federal minimum wage altogether in an effort to "virtually wipe out unemployment." Bachmann has wanted to phase out Social Security and Medicare since before Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan made that idea cool in GOP circles. It also made her unpopular for holding the line on public programs before that strategy came into vogue. Bachmann opposed increases in higher education spending during the past Bush administration and voted against an increase in Pell grant limits and loan limits and a decrease in loan interest. Those changes passed through the House in spite of her efforts, but the message was sent.