After she talked about transportation needs in her district, Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann on Monday showed a mastery of giving non-answers to questions about her future political ambitions.
Asked whether she would run for re-election next year, she said: "Right now I've been focused since January 1st on the meetings (in her district.)...It's really transportation, that's what we're hearing about, so that's the focus. Thank God that the election is over and now we're moving on to what we do best and that's govern."
Asked again, she dodged: "I'll be announcing, I suppose at some point, but it's a little early for that. Probably not before the crocuses come so..."
Asked whether she would run for U.S. Senate next year, she said: "I'm not even thinking about what I am going to do in 2014, right now."
Bachmann joins the other two Republican members of the U.S. House in giving no definitive answer to whether they will run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken next year. Both U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen have left a possible Senate -- or gubernatorial run -- on the table.
Although Bachmann had a suprisingly close re-election last year, she is still a favorite among Republicans as a possible U.S. Senate candidate.
The congresswoman, who rose to national prominence as a state senator for her support of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, on Monday also avoided criticizing Republicans who support same-sex marriage.
"I've been very strong and consistent, since I first introduced the marriage amendment to define marriage as a man and a woman. That's where I stand on the issue," she said. Asked specifically about decisions from state Sen. Branden Peterson, R-Andover, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to support same-sex marriage, Bachmann said:" I can't comment on that. That's their decision."
After a few more questions and standing for a series of photographs with local officials, gathered to talk about transportation needs, Minnesota press members tried again to get Bachmann to say something about her political future And, again, she demurred.
But she did have a sense of humor about it. After giving another non-answer, she said: "Good try! Good try! You guys are great!"
Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman is swearing off a 2014 run for office but that does not mean Minnesotans will not see him around.
Coleman, who said this week that he would not run against DFL Gov. Mark Dayton next year, plans to stay involved in the state's politics through work the Minnesota Action Network, a branch of his national American Action Network. The American Action Network is a prominent and well-funded "center right" organization that, with its affiliates, has spent millions in recent years.
Although he gave the possibility of a gubernatorial run "serious thought," Coleman decided that he could not ramp up the Minnesota Action Network while considering a candidacy, he told the Star Tribune.
“I couldn't do both," he said. If he was a potential candidate, he acknowledged, the group would be perceived as a vehicle for his personal political ambitions.
The Minnesota group, like its national affiliate, will be involved in conservative outreach, potentially reframing the Republican debate.
"We have to be reaching out rather than narrowing, the immigration debate is a good example," he said. “We are a party with a diminishing base – older white voters."
Coleman, who tweeted on Friday that "purity police (are) killing the party," said that so-called litmus tests are not working for Republicans.
"We've got to be talking about people that are important to them. Their jobs, their kids’ education and not just talking about the constitution," the former U.S. Senator said. "I want to be part of those efforts."
His efforts come at a time when the Minnesota Republican Party is "weakened by debt," he said.
(Republican party chair Pat Shortridge, who stepped in a little over a year ago when the former chairman suddenly stepped down, did not disagree Coleman's assessment. "It keeps getting better than it was…but, as we all know, it is not nearly as good as it needs to be," he said. At of the start of last month, the party was carrying about $1.5 million in state and federal debt, down from a high of more than $2 million before Shortridge took office.)
Coleman said with a weakened party, "center right" candidates and grassroots activists need another venue.
"The traditional vehicle for providing grassroots efforts for center-right candidates (has) been through a party but, in this day and age, there are efforts that go beyond parties," Coleman said. "I think there is an opportunity for a group like the Minnesota Action Network on the idea front -- to be a promoter of center-right ideas, limited government, pro-entrepreneur, pro-growth agendas that can be very very effective.…It goes beyond the domain of parties."
Coleman will also be on the local scene more often because his law firm, Hogan and Lovells, is opening up a branch in Minnesota next month. The office will be in Minneapolis, the former St. Paul mayor said noting that the city was not his choice.
He said that he will, at some point, pick favorites in next year's marquee Republican races, but wouldn't name names on Friday.
" I certainly received a lot of calls in the last day. But I’m not dropping any names," he said.
Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the Minnesota Republican Party's April Lincoln-Reagan fundraising dinner.
Johnson is a businessman whose economic message helped him unseat Democrat Russ Feingold in 2010.
"He is exactly the type of citizen legislator we need more of in Washington. He’s fighting for economic growth and more jobs and against our country’s growing debt," Minnesota GOP chairman Pat Shortridge said in a statement.
Johnson will speak at the Minneapolis Hilton on April 4.
Johnson's appearance will give Minnesota partisans a matched set. The DFL announced last month that Democratic Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin would headline their April 20 fundraising dinner.
Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin will headline the Minnesota DFL's Humphrey-Mondale fundraising dinner in April.
Baldwin is a high-profile freshman whose 2012 race against former Gov. Tommy Thomson, a Republican, garnered national attention.
The fundraising dinner will be on April 20 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
It tends to be one of the DFL's single biggest fundraisers of the year.
The DFL landed former President Bill Clinton as its headliner last year, which helped it double its fundraising expectations. That one dinner, in August, brought in nearly $700,000 for the party.
The party's October fundraising dinner, featuring Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, raised just under $90,000.
Like the Clinton fundraiser, this year's April fundraiser will not be open to the media.