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."
The ego of this windbag and her sista pal, Palin, just cracks me up. It's as though they totally missed that little self-editor most of us has in our personality that tells us "The world is laughing; please stop!" Very bizarre behavior.
Why not? We have a US Senator who lost his re-election bid. A former speaker who can't stay married to the same woman. A failed VP candidate who walked away from the only serious political job she'd ever had halfway through it. A slew of right wing talk show hosts. Come on down, Michelle, you'll be welcome!
If she is elected president it will be a sure sign of the apocalypse.
I have the misfortune of residing in her Congressional District in Minnesota. Let me spare the rest of the nation from having to do their own due dilligence: she is a lunatic! She never allows facts or reality get in the way of making her point. She does nothing for her constituents; it's all about her and her ambitions. If she wins the Republican nomination it will guarantee reelection for President Obama.
All i can say is 'Lord have mercy' is this what America has come to? seriously? Bachman?
How can any sane/rational person conclude that, after hearing Ms Bachman speak and seeing her in person, that she is "exactly what this country needs right now?" If that is the case, then this country doesn't need much.
a waste of time and money since this loon is not even worthy of dog-catcher, but let her try.Maybe a miracle will happen and she'll get the nomination....electoral college count Obama: 500....nit-wit: whatever the balance (40?) from the truly backwards states
If Sheri Few thinks Michele Bachmann is exactly what this country needs right now and that her messaging is completely in line what the conservative base believes and feels right now, she is obviously delusional and ingnorantl. Really??? You're joking right?!
Here is an other gift to the democrats. On top of Gingrich and Palin. It gets better and better.
Michele Bachmann you better change your mind , because we don't need another Saran Palin running for President. You are just like her a IDIOT and all way lying. And back by the TEA PARTY , What going on In Wisconsin Republican back Tea party GOV. You are going to be lucky If a Tea party back person get elected for any thing , or for madder of fact or a Republican. If the Republican want to win In 2012 they better get someone that will good , and you are not It.
I look forward to the Kings & Queens of Comedy road show....
A Bachmann/Palin ticket would be hilareaously disasterous.
If this woman is the best the Republicans can conger up God help them. This woman is the biggest liar to ever walk the halls of the Congress. As a former tax attorney and government employee all her life, not once have I seen her ask for her salary to be reduced because of her wage which should be cut by at least 100 thousand dollars a year. The extreme religious nut bags like the Westboro church god hating fags, gun toting white extremist are the only ones who would votefor her.
blah, blah, blah Michele Bachmann, blah, blah, blah, Sarah Palin, blah, blah, blah, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump,
Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee ETAL.
Go for it! Anyone!! Must be embarrassing to be Republican these days!
"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."
HAHAHAHAHA. Let her run. It's about time she and her conservative following get a much needed reality check. In fact, it's about time for all you hate filled GOPers to get a reality check. Trust me, America doesn't need the hate and divisiveness being promoted from the right, but do keep pumping it out. Such hate and disdain for your fellow Americans speaks VOLUMES as to what direction each of you want America to go in. Each and every unnecessary mockery directed at our President coming from the right sends a clear message to those of us who aren't as eager to rely on lies and innuendo as appropriate talking points.
Really? No kidding?
I never in a million years would have thought ..... (sarcasm)
She can't even figure out how to use a teleprompter. Whatever makes her think she's qualified to lead the US? Delusions of grandeur.
Bachmann says a lot of very odd things but I agree completely with her statement that "...under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions."
People have a right to make their own medical decisions and women are people. Pretty much everything else she has said is just plain weird and I'm pretty sure she didn't have a clue what she was saying when she championed women's rights to Choice.
Thanks for cheering me up this morning. I needed a good laugh.
Yeah! I hope she does, she deserves to be laughed at after all the lies she spews to the public.
My goldfish knows more about how to run the US Government than this unknowing silly woman.
If you check out Center for Responsive Politics, you'll discover that Michelle Bachmann receives generous political campaign contributions from Target. Yesterday, a segment on CNN pointed out that Target charges its credit card customers 23% interest. How much of these credit card charges go into Michelle Bachmann's political campaign?
Michelle Bachmann needs to tell people the truth. If they are paying 23 % interest on their credit cards, they are putting money into Michelle Bachmann's purse. "23 for you, money for me." How does that sound as a campaign slogan?
She knows that she can speak to a small, select audience and make them love her, but does she actually think she can run the nation?
Please run. You are crazier then palin
Oh please Oh please Oh please Oh please Oh please. I look forward to a raving loon running for the white house...