One of the tea party's strongest supporters is not coming back to Congress.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., announced she will not seek re-election next year.
She made the announcement in a video posted on her website.
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Bachmann isn't ruling out a run for another office.
She promised there "is no future option or opportunity" that she "won't be giving serious consideration if it can help save and protect our great nation for future generations."
Bachmann has served four terms representing Minnesota's 6th District and is the chair of the Tea Party caucus, which she launched on July 16, 2010.
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"Looking forward, after the completion of my term, my future is full, it is limitless, and my passions for America will remain," she said in the video.
Bachmann faced a tough challenge for re-election last year but said that did not influence her decision.
"I've always in the past defeated candidates who were capable, qualified and well-funded. And I have every confidence that if I ran, I would again defeat the individual who I defeated last year, who recently announced that he is once again running," Bachmann said.
She also said her decision was not affected by a congressional ethics inquiry and a Federal Election Commission complaint about her presidential campaign in 2012.
"This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff. It was clearly understood that compliance with all rules and regulations was an absolute necessity for my presidential campaign. And I have no reason to believe that that was not the case," Bachmann said.
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In her video, she says, "I promise you I have and I will continue to fight to protect innocent human life, traditional marriage, family values, religious liberty and academic excellence.'
The Tea Party Patriots released a statement, saying, “She has fought against growing government, Obamacare, waste, fiscal irresponsibility and against the ruling elite that has fought tooth and nail against Tea Party Patriots and the movement.”
“Michele believes in the American people who make up the tea party and has fought for our principles with tenacity and fearlessness,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the group's co-founder and national coordinator.
Bachmann has been a good friend of WND.
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In September, WND CEO Joseph Farah wrote: "Bachmann faces an excruciatingly tough re-election fight in Minnesota in November. With her record of uncompromising leadership in the House over the last six years, she should be a shoo-in for re-election. But Pelosi is raising millions to take her down. On top of that, she’s running against a fat-cat multimillionaire who will spend whatever it takes to defeat Bachmann in his effort to return Pelosi to the position of speaker of the House.
"I’m here to tell you we can ill afford to lose leaders like Michele Bachmann in 2012.
"She is extremely smart, articulate, sincere, honest, principled and maintains unshakable core convictions about preserving America’s heritage of constitutionally limited government and the rule of law rather than the rule of men.
"Anyone and everyone who knows me realizes I don’t make a habit of sticking my neck out for politicians.
"But Michele Bachmann is no politician in the ordinary sense of that word.
"She ran for Congress in 2006 – a very tough year for Republicans – and has been an outspoken champion of smaller and more responsible government in Washington ever since.
"She was my first choice for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2012. That’s how much I think of Michele Bachmann, whom I count not only as a tough-minded, fiscally responsible, solidly pro-life conservative, but as a true friend.
"That’s why I am supporting Michele Bachmann for re-election and urging you to join me in this effort."
WND has called Bachmann a congressional "rock star" and named her "Woman of the Year" in 2012.
The award is presented to the woman who does "the most to represent goodness, womanliness, perseverance and character” and has "an impact on wider American, and global opinion.”
Bachmann was chosen for her extraordinary dedication to America’s founding principles, her steadfast defense of the Constitution and championing the values of limited government and America’s Christian heritage.
WND also called Bachmann a gutsy, pro-life fiscal conservative who dared to vote against raising the debt ceiling, a God-fearing, gun-loving advocate of tax cuts and domestic oil drilling – and someone who has proven to be one of Obamacare’s worst nightmares.
Bachmann has been a favorite target of the political left. Though she was once dubbed “The Queen of Rage” by the left-leaning and now-defunct Newsweek magazine, WND Managing Editor David Kupelian said nothing could be further from the truth.
“I remember when Newsweek did that hit piece on her,” Kupelian said, “plastering a maniacal ‘evil eye’ photo of her on the cover and headlining it ‘The Queen of Rage.’ All I could think of was: How ridiculous, that’s exactly the opposite of reality. Michele Bachmann is one of the most gracious and genuinely caring people I know. And caring for a couple dozen foster children, as she and husband Marcus have done (not to mention five of their own) takes love – not rage.”
When, last month, WND CEO Joseph Farah called for a day of national prayer and fasting on 9/11 Bachmann responded enthusiastically.
She issued a statement of support, reading: "For centuries America has been blessed by God. Americans today and in previous generations looked to God for guidance on both private and national designated days of prayer and fasting.
“At this time of national mourning, as we search for comfort in the aftermath of this loss of innocent life, we would be wise to consider afresh II Chronicles 7:14: ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’
“I join together with other Americans who have called for September 11, 2013, to be set aside as a day for personal prayer, reflection and fasting, for ourselves and for our nation.
“As we humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways, we can take assurance from the Holy Scripture that God has promised to hear from heaven, will forgive our sin, and will heal our land.”
On May 12, Bachmann told WND it’s stunning that the Obama administration used “the federal agency feared most by Americans to intimidate conservative and tea party organizations during an election year.”
Since the IRS also is the chief enforcer of Obamacare requirements, she asked whether the IRS’s admission means it “will deny or delay access to health care” for conservatives.
At this point, she said, that “is a reasonable question to ask.”
On May 16, the House passed her bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Bachmann said, given the circumstances of the IRS admission, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a longtime advocate for the Obamacare plan, should hold a Senate vote on the same repeal plan.
And she said Obama should sign the law to repeal Obamacare.
Bachman said, as a former tax attorney, the government’s explanation that some “low-level” workers in the IRS targeted for invasive questioning conservative groups is unreal.
“A low-level functionary in Ohio would have zero jurisdictional authority to intimidate an applicant from New Mexico, or California or Georgia,” Bachmann told WND.
The move, she said, had to come from the highest levels of the government.
“We learned to our horror in Benghazi it appears that every move that was made was based on politics,” she said. “Now it appears the president was willing to use the most feared agency in the U.S. for his own political purposes.”
Bachmann said the looming storm cloud called Benghazi is the “soft underbelly” of the Obama administration and likely will keep Hillary Clinton from fulfilling her dream of occupying the Oval Office.
She was referring to the ongoing hearings on the administration’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack by al-Qaida-linked terrorists on a U.S. foreign service post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the ambassador.
Reflections on 2012
In an exclusive interview with WND, Bachmann reflected on the previous year in Congress and shared her hopes for the nation’s future.
“Most people will say the biggest story of 2012 was the president’s re-election,” Bachmann said, looking back at the year’s most memorable moments. “I actually think the most consequential story of the year, and the one with the most enduring impact, happened on June 28 when the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, voted 5-4 to uphold Obamacare.”
When she witnessed the Court’s decision on Obamacare, Bachmann said she was dumbfounded.
“I was inside the Supreme Court when the decision was passed down,” she told WND. “I was stunned. The highest court in the land had just ruled that it was constitutional for the federal government to mandate that Americans purchase a particular service. The implications will be felt for years to come – higher premiums, longer wait times and more government intrusion are just the foretaste.”
Bachmann has been a relentless warrior for conservative values, waging combat against the federal health-care takeover.
“Since the beginning, I have been on the forefront of the fight against Obamacare,” she said. “When the bill was being debated, I urged Americans from across the county to join me and other members of Congress in a House Call on Congress to demand that government take its hands off our health care. More than 40,000 Americans responded and came to Washington, D.C. And hours after Obamacare’s passage, I introduced the very first piece of legislation to repeal the president’s health-care law in full.”
In fact, Obama’s signature legislation played a role in Bachmann’s decision to run for president. She led the race for the GOP presidential nomination after she won the Iowa straw poll. But in January, Bachmann abandoned her campaign for president after placing last among six Republican presidential hopefuls in the Iowa caucuses.
“I also ran for president, in part, for the purpose of repealing Obamacare because I knew President Obama’s socialized medicine worldview meant Americans would be forced by government dictate to spend more, but would get less for health care,” she said.
Bachmann lamented the fight for Obamacare appears mostly out of Congress’ hands after the 2012 election, and now rests upon one of the various lawsuits pending against Obama’s plan.
“Unless a subsequent Supreme Court challenge – like the one from Liberty Counsel or the one from the founder of Domino’s Pizza – succeeds, our only hope is for a full, clean sweep politically at the ballot box in a future election to turn away Obamacare.
However, she noted that the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the American people.
“Our history is to innovate and change,” she said. “We will see if the American people succumb to this obvious disaster or if they’ll fight back. I fought back with everything that was in me for four years. If we work together on this project, we may have a chance.”
On a more personal level, Bachmann also takes great pride in her work helping foster youth in 2012.
“I was extremely proud to help create the Congressional Caucus of Foster Youth this year along with three of my House colleagues,” she told WND, adding, “As a foster mom to 23 children, this is an issue near and dear to my heart and it’s important to raise awareness about the hundreds of thousands of children across the country that do not have forever families.”
Warning of growing Muslim Brotherhood influence
Bachmann prides herself on her record of standing up to not only Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Democrats, but to her own party when it runs afoul of her principles.
“I stand on principle, not party,” she told WND in October. “I work together with people. I can accomplish things and get them done. But it’s also important when you see that your own party is going wrong to be able to stand up and take them on.”
In one high-profile case of Bachmann’s refusal to toe the party line, Democrats and some GOP lawmakers rebuked her and four other House Republicans – Trent Franks, R-Ariz., Thomas Rooney, R-Fla., Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., and Louie Gohmert, R-Texas – for their public denunciation of the Obama administration’s acceptance of the Muslim Brotherhood and questioning the ties of some administration figures to the radical organization. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s close aide worked under a known terror sponsor.
WND senior staff reporter Aaron Klein has detailed Clinton Chief of Staff Huma Abedin’s ties to the Saudi-financed Islamic think tank, the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, alongside Abdullah Omar Naseef – who is connected to al-Qaida.
Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York who is now with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, explained to WND why the reaction to the five House members was so severe on both sides of the aisle.
“This is not just an Obama administration regard for the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “This is a bipartisan, ruling-class in Washington perception of the Muslim Brotherhood. … What’s happening is, the five Republican conservative members of the House who raised these questions are basically holding up the mirror to the disaster that’s happening before our very eyes.”
Preserving America’s values
In a somber warning to the American people last year before the election, Bachmann declared that the future of America’s greatness is on the line.
“The American age is about a set of ideals and values,” she said, “and these ideas are grounded in a sincere adherence to a biblical faith which many throughout history have staked their lives upon, and were evidenced in our founding political documents like the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, the Constitution and state constitutions, among others.”
However, Bachmann warned, “Today, a critical mass of American cultural gatekeepers not only reject those values, they mock them. The real question is whether there remains today a critical mass of Americans willing to contend for those values in the public marketplace of ideas. That is a question each of us must answer, but for the sake of the memory of prior generations, and for the sake of the next, I hope the answer from each of us is a resounding yes!”
'It’s about the people at home'
Bachmann urged new GOP House members coming to Washington, D.C., to look inside their own hearts and evaluate their strength of character before ever setting foot in the halls of Congress.
“I think they need to know who they are before they come to Washington,” she said. “They need to make sure that they aren’t more interested in moving up the political ladder than they are pleasing the people back home. I think they would be shocked if they realized that it takes less than two months for the average person to cave.”
Bachmann said lawmakers are constantly tempted by incentives to “vote in ways they would never in a million years vote on their own.”
“They need to make a decision: Are they going to have a backbone?” she asked. “Are they going to be able to look at themselves in the mirror? Are they going to be able to go home and campaign after the election the same way that they campaigned before the election? That’s a decision that has to be made in your heart before you get to Washington. And then you stand on it.”
Bachmann also warned new lawmakers to evaluate their friendships.
“Your most important friends are the people who go into a voting booth and vote for you,” she said. “That’s what you need to remember. First, answer to your God and answer to your conscience. But you’ve got to remember that it’s not about D.C. It’s about the people at home.”
Humble political beginnings
Born in Waterloo, Iowa, to Norwegian immigrants, Bachmann grew up in a Democrat family, but became a Republican in college.
In 2009, Bachmann told WND she began her political career simply as a Christian mom concerned about the content of school papers her children brought home in their backpacks.
“I attended my caucus, not intending to run for office,” Bachmann told WND. “I had on jeans and a sweatshirt with a hole in it and tennis shoes. But the people said, ‘Michele, you need to run,’ and I did.”
Bachmann went on to beat out Minnesota’s longest-sitting state senator in the 2000 Republican primary and then defeated her Democratic opponent in the general election. Six years later, she overcame millions of dollars in Democrat campaign spending to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and, in an exclusive interview with WND, Bachmann hinted her underdog campaigns may even lead to the White House.
Bachmann, a federal tax litigation attorney before serving in elected office, told WND that she is “first and foremost a mother.” In the late 90s, the mother of five and foster mom to another 23 children through the years, grew concerned about what her foster kids were bringing home from the public school.
“Through the Goals 2000 program, the federal government was pushing knowledge, facts and information out of classroom study, substituting them with a study of attitudes, values and beliefs,” she said, “but not necessarily the values that moms and dads would like.”
Using her background as an attorney, she investigated the federal Goals 2000 contracts between Minnesota and the local school districts.
“I discovered that the federal government had effectively federalized all our local public school classrooms,” she said. “We were losing local school authority.”
Bachmann then began a campaign to stir Minnesota’s parents at a grass-roots level to repeal the federal Goals 2000 standards, succeeding to become the only state at the time to reject the federal foray into education and replace it with state standards.
Shortly thereafter parents asked her to run for office, and she’s been battling big government ever since.
“I started my career in politics believing the federal government should not have a role in the classroom,” Bachmann told WND. “Going forward, we have to pare back dramatically the size, scope and reach of the federal government. It’s extending its hand over almost every area and aspect of people’s lives, and that needs to come back if we are to remain free and prosperous. We can’t be free and prosperous if we go in the direction we’re heading.”
When asked to describe her political convictions, Bachmann responded, “Before party, I’m a conservative first.
“I believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of result, and that’s the big dividing line between liberals and conservatives,” she said. “Conservatives believe that each individual is important and deserves protection of their inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“These rights come from our creator,” she continued, “Government neither gives them nor does government have the power to take them away. … I believe my job as a member of Congress is to secure those inalienable rights.
“The heart and soul of who we are as a nation is in the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution is the framework for how we uphold those rights; and the Bill of Rights goes on to secure those rights to the individual, protecting individual rights from big government,” she said.
A conservative in socialism’s court
Bachmann also took time during her 2009 interview with WND to blast three areas of massive government expansion that have been proposed over the last several years, even faulting fellow Republicans for the bailouts under President Bush:
“I voted against the bailout, and I worked feverishly within my own caucus, begging, urging Republicans not to vote for it,” she said. “That was a big mistake Republicans made on the bailout last fall. It laid the groundwork for the slide toward socialism that we’ve seen since.”
Nonetheless, Bachmann pledged she had more fighting to do, particularly against Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade system for regulating energy use.
“My number one goal is to make sure that the left is not successful in passing their ‘global warming’ tax,” she told WND. “I want to see the United States be producers again, and to do that we need to change our tax environment and open up American energy resources.”
Bachmann also had harsh words for Obama’s health care reform before it became law.
“I read a 1986 book – ‘Destroying Democracy’ by James T. Bennett and Thomas J. Dilorenzo – that talked about ACORN’s agenda, and it was as fresh as everything President Obama has been advancing since he took office,” she said. “Complete nationalization of health care, energy tax, government taking over the economy – now that we have ‘bailout nation,’ the U.S. government owns or controls 30 percent of the American economy. If Obama gets his way and effectively nationalizes 18 percent of the nation’s wealth in health care, that will put 48 percent of our economy controlled or owned by the federal economy. That’s outlandish."
Catching heat for her convictions
Bachmann’s determination to defend individual rights from an ever-expanding federal government, however, has sometimes led her out of the mainstream among Washington’s powerful elites to take unusual stands on issues she sees as an affront to personal liberty.
WND reported, for example, on Bachmann’s charge against the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which will begin a ban on incandescent light bulbs over the next few years, requiring Americans to purchase only compact fluorescent bulbs.
“Most Americans, if you ask them, have no idea that the government has already made a choice for them,” Bachmann said in a televised MSNBC interview. “The government has substituted its choice for the American consumer’s choice.”
WND also reported on Bachmann’s defense of the dollar standard and opposition to a global currency.
Bachmann has also taken public stances against abortion, same-sex marriage, Obama’s plans for expansion of public service under the federal AmeriCorps program and the questions on the 2010 Census, which she contends are invasive. Bachmann pledged in a Washington Times interview that when census workers come knocking, she would answer only the question about the number of people in residence, “because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.”
To Bachmann, light bulbs, the census and the dollar standard are issues simply because liberty is at stake. To her detractors and political opponents, however, her unorthodox stances are fuel for ridicule.
Bachmann has been labeled across the Internet as “kooky.” MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has named her to his “World’s Worst” list, and, according to Bachmann, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., named Bachmann one of her top targets to get rid of.
The ire has grown so fierce, Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity refers to Bachmann as “the second most hated Republican woman” (after Sarah Palin).
Bachmann, however, is not surprised by the criticism.
“In some ways, it’s an honor, because it means that I must be effective. Otherwise, they’d be ignoring me,” Bachmann told WND. “The other side seems to have two tricks that they pull out of their bag: the Republican is stupid, or the Republican is crazy. … It’s straight out of Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’: they identify their target, then try to marginalize their target.”
Bachmann explained much of the ridicule she endures is because powerful women with conservative views don’t fit liberals’ desired image.
“I’m not afraid to be a social or fiscal conservative, and that doesn’t fit their template,” she told WND. “Democrats see women as yet one more dependency group, but I defy that. I don’t need government programs to succeed. I worked my way through college, my husband and I started our own business, and we didn’t need the government to be the answer.
“I also think they’re upset that I’m willing to go on radio and TV shows and call them out on their policies,” she continued. “They’ve thrown just about everything they can throw at me and they haven’t prevailed yet, and I think that infuriates them.”
Hope for the like-minded?
In the wake of tea party protests, where many fiscal conservatives blasted Republicans and Democrats alike for supporting federal bailouts, WND asked Bachmann if those who agree with her principles can still look to her party for leadership.
“After the election of 2006, when I was sworn in in 2007,” Bachmann replied, “I was expecting a fairly liberal group of people in Congress. But that’s not what I found. I have been pleasantly surprised by a number of my colleagues, who believe in the founding principles we share.
“[T]he Republican Party had overspent and had been a part of the problem of enhancing the power of government over the power of the individual,” she continued. “And I think the GOP got the comeuppance it deserved at that point in that it had lost fidelity to its founding principles.
“What I have seen birthed out of the hardship of the elections in 2006 and 2008, however, is a winnowing of that mindset that caused the Republican Party to lose so badly,” she said. “There is still a remnant, a strong fighting element in the House Republican Caucus that is more in line with the principles of, say, Mark Levin’s ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ than they are with the principles that cause the GOP to lose.”
Finally, WND asked Bachmann if she could see a day when the candidate who began her political career in jeans and a holey sweatshirt would one day run for the presidency.
“If I felt that’s what the Lord was calling me to do, I would do it,” she answered. “When I have sensed that the Lord is calling me to do something, I’ve said yes to it. But I will not seek a higher office if God is not calling me to do it. That’s really my standard.
“If I am called to serve in that realm I would serve,” she concluded, “but if I am not called, I wouldn’t do it.”