Bachmann gives up bid for House leadership post

  • Article by: JEREMY HERB , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 10, 2010 - 8:34 PM

Rep. Michele Bachmann said that she was taking her name out of the running for Republican Conference Chair, the No. 4 position in the House, and endorsing U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann dropped her bid late Wednesday to join the Republican leadership.

Bachmann said Wednesday that she was taking her name out of the running for Republican Conference Chair, the No. 4 position in the House, and endorsing U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.

"Jeb Hensarling has my enthusiastic support for his candidacy to become Republican House Conference Chair," she said in a statement. "Jeb has demonstrated his commitment to limited government, reduced spending and lower taxes and he will be a strong voice for the Tea Party's call for these values."

In past days, however, Bachmann had said how important it was for the Tea Party to have a voice in the Republican leadership after helping the GOP take back the House in an electoral romp.

In an interview with Politico published Wednesday, Bachmann said her efforts motivating the Tea Party helped "put that gavel in John Boehner's hand."

Boehner, in line to become House Speaker, did not get involved in the conference chair race, but the rest of the GOP leadership, including current Minority Whip Eric Cantor and outgoing Conference Chair Mike Pence, lined up behind Hensarling, a staunch fiscal conservative, While Bachmann had the support of some Tea Party House members and her Minnesota GOP colleagues, Hensarling appeared to have widespread support in the Republican caucus for the position.

It's unclear if Bachmann will be offered any kind of compromise position for dropping her candidacy before the GOP caucus contests, which are scheduled for next week. With Bachmann's bid over, the House Republican leadership has been finalized.

Bachmann's spokesman Sergio Gor did not respond to requests for an interview Wednesday evening.

Bachmann, although only entering her third term, has demonstrated a fundraising prowess, in part thanks to her national profile, fueled by frequent appearances on Fox News.. She raised more than $13 million this election, a House record, and donated to more than 20 Republican freshmen who won Tuesday.

But after launching her candidacy for a leadership spot right after the election, the Minnesota Republican may have harmed her chances when she told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the White House was spending $200 million per day on its Asia trip.

The White House said the figure was wildly inflated and the number was essentially debunked. But Bachmann stood by the claim, which was reported in the Indian press citing anonymous Indian officials, and her association with it reinforced the perception that her rhetoric can often be inflammatory.

Endorsing Hensarling over Bachmann, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said: "This position requires someone who has a command of these issues and has a history of successfully debating them."

In her statement Wednesday, Bachmann said she plans to advance "Tea Party ideals" through the Tea Party Caucus, which she founded this year. "It is my wish to bring new faces to the caucus, including freshman members," she said.

Before dropping her leadership bid, Bachmann spoke with Boehner about the new Congress, she said in her statement. "I am convinced they will wholeheartedly work towards the issues the American people are calling for such as fiscal responsibility, ending the bailouts and repealing Obamacare."

Jeremy Herb • 202-408-2723

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