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“She declined to run again in one of the most strongly Republican districts in the country,” Hofrenning said. “I think she does represent an important pocket of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, but her legacy is not one of electoral success. … I think her type of politics are not majority politics. They’re not going to lead the Tea Party or the Republican Party to electoral success.”
Former Sixth District GOP Chair Jen Niska, who calls Bachmann a friend, defended her tenure. Niska said that Bachmann “led our district really well. ... She was a good voice for us.” Above all, Niska said, “any time she was with constituents, she listened.”
When she talked, particularly on foreign policy, Bachmann favored rhetorical bombshells that often backfired. She was roundly condemned by Republicans and Democrats alike in 2012 for accusing Huma Abedin, a well-respected Hillary Clinton aide, of having family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Bachmann said was trying to “destroy” western civilization. That same year, Bachmann said Obama was “waving a tar baby in the air” on oil policy. Last year, along with two other lawmakers, she held a news conference on Egyptian television praising the military’s ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
H. Wayne House, a professor of theology, law and culture at the Faith Evangelical College & Seminary in Washington state, has been friends with Bachmann since law school. He said he appreciates her authenticity.
“She is really convinced of what she says, and whether you like what she says or you don’t like what she says, I think you have to appreciate the fact that she has sincere convictions,” House said. “Michele can do a lot of things. Obviously she could be in another political office and that’s her choice. … Or she could be in a position of just a speaker or a lecturer, a teacher. Who knows what Michele will do?”
To the college students in Lynchburg, Bachmann hewed to a safer message, bemoaning Israel’s growing isolation in the world and Iran’s putative nuclear capacity. She said she was ready to “pass the baton,” saying there are many student interns in her Washington office with grand aspirations.
“A lot of the kids come in and tell me, I want to be president someday. I want to be governor someday. I want to be senator someday. I want to be a congressman someday,” Bachmann said, in closing. “And I tell them that’s great, that’s wonderful, I’m so excited. Get ready to serve. And get ready for suffering.”
Allison Sherry • 202-383-6120