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."
There is no way "the chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus" could be elected POTUS! It's going to be so easy and cheap to produce ads against her – just cut-and-paste footage of Tea Party rallies, no text, no commentary needed. Run, Michele, run :)
In a word, "delusional". It must have been a real challenge to find someone to make Sarah Palin's style of politics seem acceptable. Ms. Bachmann has consistantly shown that she is a neo-right wing religous nut without much concern for the dwindling middle class. Let's not forget those farm subsidy checks that she and her family benefit from, all the while preaching against the evils of socialism. All we need is another half-smart, self-absorbed holy-roller. It starts at home, sister!
Is she standing as Tea Party Candidate or Republican Candidate? Wish she stand as Tea Party Candidate alone and not as GOP.
Leave that woman in the twilight zone where she belongs.
PLEASE run...it'll be fun watching her answer questions from unfriendly people, i.e., anyone NOT from her staff
Bachmann should enter the race. It will provide her with the opportunity to deliver her message on a national stage. It will also give us the opportunity to see her subjected to the scrutiny that all candidates endure as part of the process. In many ways, it will measure the real level of conservatism in America today much like Ralph Nader's interminable presidential bids measured the real level of environmentalism (which turned out to be not so much if it cost mainstream voters money).
Someday there will be a woman president, but Michelle Bachmann will never be that woman. We need a level-headed, well-balanced candidate for president, not a tea-party nut job such as Bachmann.
I believe Michelle Bachman can beat Obama, but Obama is not going to take Michelle Bachman very seriously right now. It's too early. Michelle Bachman is going to be a major factor come next November. I have said this before and I will say it again. Any Republician who runs for President needs the help of the "Tea Party" they have proven that they can get their "guy'" elected. Michelle Bachman is a driving force in the Republician Party and the Tea Party. Right now it's to early. The best advice Michelle Bachman's advisors can give her is to "Wait and Watch" for Obama screw up. There are 19 months till the election a lot can happen now till election time. Who ever the Republician nominee for President Michelle Bachman would be the prefect Vice President and a winning ticket. It would be the Republician 1 Obama 0
And we're all increasingly serious about ignoring her. Really, Michele, you're a waste of space, on the page, in the chamber, on the planet.
I needed a good laugh this morning. Thank you, Michele.
This elected bag of wind is such an intellectual lightweight, she makes Palin look like the head of MENSA.
Please, God, let her run! It will be like Christine O'Donnell writ large across America. How fun!
MB go away! and take Sister Sarah with you. Between you, you have half a brain ( that means a quarter each, in case you don't do fractions.)
It would get no better for the Democrats than to see Bachmann head the GOP ticket in 2012 - or, for that matter, appear on it anywhere. RUN, MICHELE, RUN!
We know her place is not in the House... House of Representatives or the White House. She isn't fully aware of what is going on and what her cuts would do if enacted.
Romney had his chance. Move over and let somebody else take it. Bachman, IMO, would stir some interesting dialogue and debate.
There's absolutely no reason to take this seriously because sitting and former House members are not and never will be credible Presidential candidates. Americans only elect sitting and former Governors, U.S. Senators, and victorious generals to the Presidency. For everyone else, it's just a way to aggrandize their own already over-inflated egos.
I do so hope this blantant liar runs for President! Death Panels? None found. President's trip to far east to cost the taxpayers $200 million per day, 37 warships diverted to protect the President, 3000+ people to accompany the President -- ALL Lies by Michelle Bachmann. Between this fool and good ole half-term Palin, they make a real pair of ???????????
ha ha ha ha ha - another idiot that gets woodies and votes from men that think with their smaller heads.
She is unelectable. Period. End of Story.
Get right in there. Along with palin and the rest of the baggers, you will suck all of the money and oxygen out of the GOP and leave it in a toilet of hate and fear.
Please run and ensure Obama has a second term.
She would be a disaster.
I hope she runs, what a circus. She is so far off from mainstream America she will drive voters to the polls in droves just to vote against her.
Delusional, but would pay big dollars to see her in a debate with Obama.