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."
With all do respect. She is going to be the comic relif for next political election. She need to go back to school and study "American History."
Are you seriously dillusional
Bachmann is probably well aware that she and her cronies share certain similarities with Fascism in Europe in the 1930s:
1. Their media invented their own "truth". Constant repetition of lies replaced all verifiable evidence;
2. The more radical devoured the less radical until only the bullies and sociopaths were left in their movement;
3. Pure racism became the only ethic;
4. They ruined their countries economies.
If she is not aware of the above, then at least her political bed mates; Hannity, O'Reilly, Beck, Limbaugh, and Murdoch should be. The leaders of the GOP definitely will be aware of these similarities. The self-serving Koch brothers would definitely know this. Time to start holding them accountable. Unless we learn from history, we are bound to repeat its failures. Time to wake up from the hypnotism.
big deal. she'll get 2 or 3% of the vote.
newt could whip her. (and he has no chance
of winning the election)
Just what we need leading this country!
I pray and hope that the majority of the intelligent people don't forget to vote this crazy lady out!
Good luck to you. It will not be easy going up against those men.
Why not ? Just another thug trying to take over the country. America has to wake up and take this country back. We really are going backwards here and if the Republican have their way we will be back to living as we did in the 1930's. When people went out and voted Republican this past election I hope all of this is what they wanted.
Oh, please do run. Drag the Republicans to the right into the Tea Party corner, leave the moderate conservatives to hunt for a champion of their own. We need a new S. Palin to keep the comedy writers happy!
Pffft . . . another rocket scientist . . . boy we need her so we can stop Planned Parenthood from giving all those abortions at the shopping malls. She says that people can "grab their Starbuck and make a quit stop for an abortion." The ridiculousness of her statement is astounding! What a lame brain!!! And that goes for her suporters as well. Dubm and Dumber!
This is the same woman who talked about the founding fathers tireless effort to end slavery right?
Can the republicans not bring someone who is more credible and less reactionary?
Good. The insanity of the Republican made and supported Tea Party, and the menatal instability of people like Bachmann will ensure Democratic victories in 2012. Republicans have overstepped their powers and lied to Americans again. Electoral payback is coming.
Not only do I hope that Michele runs purely for the entertainment value that it will provide, I hope all of the other Republicans that have been hinting at a run do it as well. It will be fun to see them trying to appeal to "nutty" base to prove who can be more narrow minded and right wing than the other. The mud slinging will be wonderful to watch for the next year and a half.
What she should be more serious about is mental health counciling.
It was Sara now it is Michele. Sara the politically challenged who has no idea how the world runs and the other one who is more politically challenged a new Tea Party darling who does not have any better understanding how the world runs. I think the Republicans have there hands full with all the Tea Party members or voters that will undermine there political clout and beliefs. I am a Democrat and I can see a political backlash to there fundamental core in 2012 presidential election reversal in what happened in the Mid-term election. I never seen the Republican party so afraid of the Tea Party's surge and lining up to vote with them afraid in the next election some members will be at the mercy of the Tea Party. Thank God my party stands tall , even though we have some disagreements which at times is healthy because it gives people to voice there opinions. The Republicans are running scared with there tails between there legs and letting the Tea Party members lead the way. What we need in our country is fix the economy. keep your conservatism at home. In peoples mind jobs is the driving force and not going around and stamping you conservative values. So do us a favor keep those two ladies at home. I will be there to vote for a viable candidate and will like to see the first woman president (Democrat ) in our great country. Gd Bless.
Every time she talks I hear the “Looney Tunes” theme in the background.
I guess even the dregs of our society need to be represented in government. Bachmann fits the bill.
Run baby! Run. Show everyone how stupid you really are. Hope you win so that America can prosper again, and be a beacon of hope for the rest of the World. So again, run please. Hope you win because only then will the millions of ignorant/stupid Americans that support you will learn their hard lesson.
It's clear that the Republican Party has gone to the reactionary right, but Rep. Bachmann is absolutely irrational. She rewrites history to fit her twisted world view.
Run Michele, run. You are stealing Sarah's press and if you run, Mr. Mittens and the Rev. Huckabee will also be overshadowed. The media love you because you are better than Sarah–equally easy on the eyes, smarter, and you don't say such crazy things. Every stupid white guy in America will vote for you. Please run. Draw off the right wing. If the Republicans won't nominate you, run a third party ticket. Maybe you could get John McCain to run as your vice-president.
Don't you have to be deemed sane before you can run for President? That certainly should be the case if it's not...and in that case, Michele is OUT. It would be fun, though, to see her kicked to the curb. As a Minnesotan, I am totally embarrassed that this woman keeps getting sent to Washington.
Bachmann is the perfect candidate for those who find Sarah Palin too intellectual.
I am soryy but what gets you elected is the independent MODERATE people in this country.
This sarah palin look alike......well...maybe more like that Harris lady from Florida in the 2000 Florida election theft......has no appeal to more than half of this contry.
She is too extreme....way too extreme.......but this running for president is a good way to raise funds that you get to keep....she's no dummy
CNN, don't forget to say "raises brows".
Wow!! This might be the best new to ensure President Obama's re-election. Hop on in you crazy woman!