Tea Party Firebrand Bachmann Won't Seek Fifth Term

Tea Party favorite and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann announced that she would not run for re-election to her Minnesota House seat. Bachmann was facing a tough fight, having barely beaten an unknown Democrat in a district that Republican nominee Mitt Romney carried by 15 points.

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Republican Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has announced that she will not seek a fifth term in Congress next year.

As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, the Tea Party firebrand delivered that news by video early this morning.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: Michele Bachmann, the woman who was a presidential candidate for a blink of an eye, spent eight and a half minutes saying it was time for her to go, for now. The background theme music had to keep re-looping to last the entire video.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: My decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected to Congress...

CHANG: And Bachmann said if you think the ongoing investigation into her campaign finances during her 2012 presidential bid has anything to do with her decision, think again.

BACHMANN: I fully anticipate the mainstream liberal media to put a detrimental spin on my decision not to seek a fifth term. And since I was first elected to Congress many years ago, they always seemed to attempt to find a dishonest way to disparage me...

CHANG: Bachmann's profile skyrocketed as a Tea Party favorite, but she also accumulated embarrassing flub after flub. There was that time she mixed up John Wayne the actor with John Wayne Gacy the serial killer. And the time she said the human papillomavirus vaccine could cause mental retardation. And then there was her theory on global warming, which she explained on the House floor on Earth Day 2009.

BACHMANN: There isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas. There isn't one such study because carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas. It is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is a part of Earth's life cycle.

CHANG: Critics say that statements like these helped drive the Republican Party as a whole to the right. Jesse Ferguson, of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says even without Bachmann here, the House Republicans will still be championing her agenda - trying to repeal health care and voting against spending compromises.

JESSE FERGUSON: Michele Bachmann's agenda of extremism and obstruction have already infected the entire Republican Congress.

CHANG: And her brand of Republicanism may have been too extreme for Bachmann's own district. She barely squeaked out a victory six months ago against her relatively unknown Democratic challenger, in a district Mitt Romney carried by a healthy margin.

David Wasserman is the U.S. House editor for the Cook Political Report.

DAVID WASSERMAN: This is the most Republican seat in Minnesota and it's supposed to be a safe Republican seat. But the only reason why it has been competitive in the past four elections is Bachmann herself.

CHANG: Ironically, with the incumbent Bachmann gone, Republicans may have an easier time holding on to that seat in 2014.

Ailsa Chang, NPR News, the Capitol.

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