Michele Bachmann: Tea Party Caucus not designed to be alternative voice to GOP leadership
Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says her newly formed Tea Party Caucus, approved Monday, plans to invite everyday Americans to talk to members about Tea Party issues but has no intention of becoming an alternative, conservative voice to the GOP House leadership.
“No, I don’t see it that way,” Bachmann, of Minnesota, told The Daily Caller when asked if she envisioned the caucus offering a conservative counterpoint to the GOP establishment. “I think it’s really just complementary. … Usually the purposes of the caucuses are to promote an idea or issue — whether it’s the shellfish caucus, the potato caucus, the missile defense caucus. It’s members of Congress who are interested in an idea and they want to promote it. Well, this is no different.”
The idea is for the caucus to bring in “real people from various walks of life” to speak to its members about issues resonating within the Tea Party movement. “Usually we invite experts in,” Bachmann said of other caucuses in the House. “Well, these are experts in just being regular Americans,” she said.
The caucus is quickly evolving: Bachmann filed paperwork at end of last week to form the group, it was approved by House administration Monday, and now, the Minnesota congressman is out recruiting members for Wednesday’s inaugural meeting.
Bachmann was en route by air to Washington when the caucus was approved. “When I flew in, I was handing out invites to members of Congress to invite them to come to our first Tea Party Caucus tomorrow, and it’s all been very positive.”
Bachmann said the idea originated when Republican Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul said that if elected, he would form a caucus in the Senate. “We had heard that on the news and we looked at each other and said, ‘Well, we’re here. Why wait? Lets go ahead and launch one.’ We thought it was a great idea that he had,” she said.
There’s been speculation that the GOP leadership might not be very happy about Bachmann’s caucus, but she said no one in a leadership role tried talking her out of forming the group. “As a matter of fact the very first person to join the Tea Party caucus was a person in leadership, Mike Pence,” she said, referencing the Republican Conference chairman from Indiana.
Interest in joining the caucus has also included candidates who’ve called her office to say they want to be part of it if elected in November.
Asked if her forming of the caucus — which will likely endear her even more to the conservative base — hints to any national aspirations, Bachmann said her “aspiration is to get elected in the next election because I have such a big target on my back from Speaker Pelosi.”
Listing several liberal political organizations who have targeted her for defeat this fall, Bachmann said, “That’s a lot of firepower. Every bit of my effort is coming back this fall.”
WATCH: BACHMANN ON THE CAUCUS
E-mail Alex Pappas and follow him on Twitter