And the gloves come off. In recent comments concerning abortion, Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann strongly criticized current GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, chiding him for not being sufficiently pro-life. In a statement, she made no bones as to how she feels about Romney’s decision to not sign the Susan B. Anthony List’s anti-abortion pledge:
“The excuses for not signing clearly continue the doubts about his leadership and commitment to ending the practice of abortion – particularly for a candidate who ran as pro-choice for the Senate and Governorship of Massachusetts. Any Presidential candidate seeking our party’s nomination should sign the SBA Pledge and vow to protect life from conception to natural death.”
Bachmann, now second in the polls following what some have called a winning debate performance, has Romney fixed in her sights as he is now the one obstacle that stands between her and the nomination, at least according to current polling.
What is interesting, is that as Bachmann trails Romney by a sharp 14% percentage points, the margin that she has to make up to claim the lead is almost equal to her current level of support: 19%. But more importantly, by attacking Romney as she is, and assuming that she continues, the House firebrand is making it increasingly less likely that she will be considered for the VP slot if Romney wins the primary.
That aside, a Romney-Bachmann ticket would make a certain level of sense, as Bachmann would round out Mitt to the Tea Party social conservatives Christian that find him repellent. In fact, the Tea Party finds Romney’s current positions on issues such as global warming to be untenable, his past on issues such as heath care to be unthinkable, and his religion to be, on the whole, false. Bachmann has the correct views to match Tea Party orthodoxy, and could thus assuage Romney’s critics and perhaps bring them into the fold, if under protest.
But that seems unlikely. Bachmann is not merely attacking Romney out of a need to score political points, but also out of a deep-seated difference of opinion. Why would she serve under a President, theoretically, that she found to be ideologically incorrect? This puts her recent criticism of Romney into perspective: she is not gunning for second place.
But if Romney does secure the Republican nod, and not Bachmann, as the polls (early as it is) decisively suggest, then she will find herself in a tough spot. Michele obviously wants to be active in the 2012 Presidential campaign, but if she fails to secure the nomination, she won’t have a dog in the fight. She certainly will not be joining Romney as we have noted, and will thus not be a part of the Republican team; with little other choice than Obama she will almost have nothing to do.
With that picture in mind, I want to raise an idea: Bachmann, a noted fundraiser and organizer, could certainly mount an independent campaign under the Tea Party banner and make a real go of it. She would lose to Obama as she would be splitting his competition, but the concept certainly doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch. Bachmann mustered her own response to the State of the Union and chairs the Tea Party Caucus, two actions that clearly demonstrate her independence from Republican leaders and orthodoxy.
Mitt is the comparatively moderate GOP candidate, and he is running a campaign that will not force him to walk too far back to the center when the time comes for the general election if he does win the primary process. Bachmann on the other hand views such temperance has heresy. The two cannot exist together in harmony; they cannot play for the same team.
And so if Mitt wins the nomination, he might unwittingly split the party, and thus lose the election handily to a (somewhat) unified Democratic party. Then again, Bachmann’s numbers against Obama in a one to one fight are hardly encouraging.
If it’s Mitt, can the Republican party constrain the Tea Party from striking out on their own away from a President that they despise, and an ex-Governor that they abhor?