Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann downplayed her perceived role as a competitor to the GOP’s official response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, saying she never considered her choice to rebut the president Tuesday night as a “response” per-say.
“I was extended an invitation to the Tea Party Express to speak to their membership and I never took this as a State of the Union response necessarily that I would be giving,” Bachmann said Monday night. “I am not giving the official Republican response. This is not a competition. I’m very excited about Paul Ryan’s response, I think he’ll do a wonderful response. This was really a reaction that I was giving to people in the Tea Party.”
Last week the Tea Party Express, a California-based political action committee that spent millions of dollars over the past few years on conservative campaigns, announced that Bachmann would deliver an alternative response online after the inaugural speech. The e-mail to supporters was sent out just hours after the Republican Party announced that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan would deliver the party’s “official” rebuttal on Tuesday night, leaving observers wondering if this was a possible sign of friction between the establishment and the Tea Party.
Bachmann is the founder the 52-member Congressional Tea Party Caucus.
Republican leaders shrugged off Bachmann’s decision to deliver a response online as just another medium among many that House and Senate members would use to comment on the president’s speech.
“Michele Bachmann, just as the other 534 members of the House and Senate, are going to have opinions as to the State of the Union. Again, this is a process that happens every year, and I look forward to all comments,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters Monday. “But it’s Paul Ryan that’s giving the official Republican [response].”
In reaction to a question about why Bachmann is receiving a disproportionate share of attention for her response, Cantor responded, “Then maybe I should ask, why is that the case?”
As for the content of Bachmann’s State of the Union non-response, you will just have to wait and see: an aide whisked the congresswoman away from reporters before she could say.