Washington (CNN) - Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is increasingly serious about joining the wide-open race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
And a growing number of conservative activists, legislators and political operatives in key states stand ready to help her if she does.
Bachmann, the chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus, arrives in New Hampshire on Friday for a two-day barnstorm of the first-in-the-nation primary state, her first foray there since floating her potential White House candidacy back in January.
News of the trip immediately stirred up grassroots excitement: A Bachmann-headlined fundraiser Saturday for the New Hampshire GOP was re-located to a larger venue because of "a very strong initial interest in this event," according to a state party official.
Bachmann has already met with prominent interest groups and well-placed officials in early caucus and primary states of Iowa and South Carolina, where both Tea Partiers and Republican regulars have been impressed by her easy rapport with conservative crowds.
The trips are having an acute impact on Bachmann's thinking about the presidential race, those around her say.
"She is leaning more toward doing it," one Republican close to Bachmann told CNN. "The people she's meeting on the ground, they love her. She is definitely more encouraged when she makes these trips."
Bachmann's political advisers are quietly laying the groundwork for a dark horse campaign should she choose to join the Republican fray at some point in the spring or early summer, when she has said she will make a final decision about the race. She is returning to Iowa later this month, and has scheduled a swing through the South Carolina low country in April.
"She is seriously considering running and getting a full team lined up and making sure it's the right one," said Ryan Rhodes, the chairman of the Iowa Tea Party. "It will be different than everyone else. She will have a very good team behind her if she does decide to run."
Asked about her organizational efforts, Bachmann's chief-of-staff, Andy Parrish, reiterated that his boss is giving serious thought to running. But he would not comment on specific political outreach.
"If the congresswoman decides to do run, she is going to do it her way, and her way has never been the establishment way," Parrish said.
But both Parrish and Bachmann's media consultant, Ed Brookover, have recently started calling state party officials and other key political players in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, multiple Republican sources told CNN.
Bachmann and her team, though, appear to be taking a non-traditional approach to the caucus and primary game by seeking out potential staffers and volunteers from a farm team of newly energized Tea Party activists, rather than relying on an established corps of operatives and consultants to run the effort.
"Some aspects have to be traditional," said the source close to Bachmann. "You've got to have a media guy, you've got to have your political guy and your message guy. Then there is the non-traditional side. If she runs, you will see a grassroots campaign that looks like none you've ever seen before. It will make Barack Obama's effort pale in comparison."
The source said Bachmann's political shop has lately received an influx of resumes, including several from operatives who have worked for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in the past.
If Palin decides not to seek the White House and leaves her supporters without a candidate in the race, Bachmann - with her similarly unabashed brand of conservativism - would be a clear beneficiary.
Already, Bachmann's few months of spadework have paid dividends in Iowa. Republican state Sen. Kent Sorenson, a leading Tea Party figure in the state, told CNN he plans to support Bachmann if she runs.
"There is a void out there that needs to be filled," Sorenson said. "I hope she decides to run. She is somebody that has the credentials to fire up the grassroots. She would be someone who could unite different factions of the party. She is a strong fiscal and social conservative."
Bachmann has Iowa roots - she was born in Waterloo – and is also close with Rep. Steve King, her colleague in the House who represents a conservative swath of western Iowa but has a dedicated grassroots following across the state.
Though Bachmann was not among the five potential candidates at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual spring forum on Monday, King won cheers from the audience of evangelicals when he plugged Bachmann's outspoken opposition to President Barack Obama's health care law.
Bachmann, if she runs, would still need to raise huge sums to compete against higher-profile candidates in the field, like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. And winning the nomination would almost certainly require a top-three finish in the Iowa caucuses.
But the idea is not so far-fetched.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad recently marveled at the crowds Bachmann can draw and said a contest featuring both her and Palin would "break all records" for caucus turnout.
Republicans in the early states have also been struck by her energy and work ethic.
After an early-morning budget vote on February 18, Bachmann boarded a pre-dawn flight out of Washington for a whirlwind tour of South Carolina featuring six different events - some large, some intimate - with donors, GOP activists and evangelical leaders.
Bachmann addressed two influential conservative groups - the South Carolina Federation of Republican Women and the Spartanburg County Republican Party - and earned multiple standing ovations at both receptions.
"Her messaging is completely in line what the conservative base believes and feels right now," said South Carolina GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd. "People do not get standing ovations with activists unless the message is on target."
At another closed-door gathering of conservative activists prior to the Spartanburg GOP event, Bachmann received a laying-on of hands from four local Christian leaders who prayed for her protection, according to a person in the room who witnessed the moment.
Sheri Few, a South Carolina Republican activist who said she has volunteered "hundreds of hours" organizing Bachmann's travels through the state, said Bachmann's combination of personal charisma and conservative convictions would make her an immediate contender for the nomination.
"Several people told me before she came here that they had seen on her on television, that they liked her and were interested in her," Few told CNN. "But after hearing her speak they were convinced she is exactly what our country needs right now. Hearing her in person, she seems to really connect."
Bachmann is a scum bag to say the lease the only reason why she gets any coverage at all is the fact that she is one and the media loves that for the republican party they are scared of her because of the fact they the tea party thinks she walks on water but could you imagine her being president we would be the laughing stock of the world we had bush and look what happened thank god for Obama and Hillary
you're kidding, right? She is an idiot just one notch above sarah. this is utterly laughable
I don't agree with her policies most of the time, but what I like about her is the fact she can go on any network and say what she feels without hesitance no matter how right or wrong she is. All Mrs. Palin does is go on FOX news and say what she feels and nowhere else.
Let me bring you back to earth #2 MN bimbo . . . . . you are the punch line of jokes. Nobody but the idiots of the 6th district in MN care about what you say. You dumb revolutionary you . . . . . go back for more botox. You are going to need it for those photo ops!
People who want to work for you and the imbecilic moron from AK are all losers. Just like the two of you.
And I thought SP was the worst we could possibly get-now I'm not so sure. I continue to see her as a homegrown terrorist.
She couldn't even answer David Gregorys' questions with a degree of sanity.
Yes, Rep. Bachmann, you may be very serious about your presidency.
The question is how serious we are about you.
The answer, in my opinion, is, "not at all."
You are, however, pretty good-looking. You must be very proud.
A serious bid from a person that most of the country cannot take seriously. This is the new career path for someone who doesn't really want to govern but wants book deals, fat fees for personal appearances, and a reality TV show.
Oh, please, please, do jump in! This dimwit will provide endless hours of comic relief and fodder for the talk shows.
Run, crazy lady, run! Time for the Bachmann/Palin Overdrive tour to dial the idiocy up to 11!
I will seriously think about registering republican just to vote for backman if she runs in the primary, just to do like what south Carolina's repugs did with green to get the dems nomination, because they knew he couldn't win against Demint, if backman wins against Obama, this country would have deserved every thing that they would get, because it will be so obvious what kind of people we are and how far we have come, to be unites as a country, because this woman is a bag of emotion and ideology in one. No critical thinking, logic, or common sence what so ever that she posses, even the most hardened white supremist would think twice of making this woman president if they have any kind of patriotic bone left in their body.
As an independent voter in Wisconsin, I can't believe how radical the Republican party has become. With the likes of Gov. Walker in Wisconsin and Michelle Bachman in Minnesota we are a long way from the policies and values of people like Robert La Follette and Hubert Humphrey. Most people in Wisconsin or Minnesota are not followers of someone like Michelle Bachman.
LOL! I'd vote for Pee-Wee Herman before I would ever vote for Bachmann! She should select Palin as her running mate. Watching Obama mop the floor with these two idiots would be pure theater.
["The people she's meeting on the ground, they love her. She is definitely more encouraged when she makes these trips."]
I NEVER met her – and that's the problem and the reason she will NOT win!!!
I would vote for sarah palin before I voted for you. She is smarter than you! you know that don't you. I GOT IT! you both should have a constitution contest to see which of you is the smartest! I never thought I'd see the day I would actually vote for paylin!
And "we the people" are increasingly laughing at the very prospect!
Lord, hear my prayer!
It's the new "American exceptionalism," I guess . . . even the exceptionally unqualified can be President.
I can only say God help us if she does! I am truly sick of nut cases like her who have a very narrow view of the world and worry more about scoring political points than really doing any good.
The more one hears of the shaping up of 2012, the more loudly rings the unspoken truth, "the Republicans really don't have anybody good enough to beat Obama."
One reason is that Republicans have forgotten what a "conservative" really is; one thing a real conservative is NOT is a Bible-thumping, bug-eyed Baptist pusher of Proposition 8 and an advocate for the rights of viable fetuses. (I like to think of them as little feti. Don't forget that "Every Sperm is Sacred," as stated by Monty Python.)
Republicans used to be about personal responsibility and aspiration.
Aspiration long ago was discarded from the American mentality, largely as a result of the social advocacy of fellow travelers from the glory days of the first unions and the beginnings of social security.
These days, even our artistic aspirations represent a goal of being as untalented as Everyman. (See Rock and Rap. Then revisit Horowitz and Heifetz.)
Real Republican Values and Aspiration are fairly doomed to lose elections in this era, so the remains of that party must advocate crazy, oppressive religions and bigotry instead.
A real Republican leader would find it difficult to come up with something honest to say in a campaign speech.
Unless Repunlicans can do better, I'll remain a Republican IRPI–In Real Philosophy Only–who supports President Obama.
This is definitely one race I like see if she runs.
it would be great to see sarah palin and michelle bachmann ticket. it would help obama would win in a landslide! obama already has wi, in, oh, fl, nj and mi locked up. republicans need to do more to re-elect obama.
That's because like any good lunitic she is increasingly believing her own lunacy. I can see her campaign slogan now: "Making the World Safe for Exploitation and Stupid."
Both bachmann and Palin will run, with mass tea Party support. However given the fact that both are completely unelectable, the RNC will choose a more mainstream candidate instead.
The Tea Party will be so incenced by this snub that they willn split from the republicans and create their own third party, thus ensuring the democrats continue to hold the white house until the Sun goes cold.
oh God I hope she does... I cannot wait for the Republican bloodbath to begin... and you just know someone will be point out every lie she has told... she will deserve what she gets, just like the rest of them.... Krazeeeee!
All we have to do to eliminate Bachmann and Palin is require an IQ test with an average or above score to run for president and bam, they would be out of the race. I have never seen a political party take two such total nitwits seriously. Poor form Republicans.
Go ahead and throw your hat in the presidential campaign, just like so many other Republicans and Tea Partiers are doing. You'll all learn that running against an incumbent President is difficult. Just consider how Sen. Kerry failed to unseat Bush in 2004. The Democratic platform at that time was all anti-Bush with no substance, no solutions. The current GOP/TP platform is based solely on removing the current President and undoing every piece of legislation that he signed. No ideas for fixing the problems we face as a nation....just whip the crowds into hatred rather than offer solutions.