Rep. Bachmann's Iowa trip ignites White House speculation

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) knew her upcoming trip to Iowa would create speculation she was edging toward a presidential run.

Bachmann will be the keynote speaker at an Iowans for Tax Relief PAC fundraiser Jan. 21 in Des Moines. News of her trip ignited speculation she was testing the waters for a presidential bid by visiting the first state to hold a nominating contest in 2012. 

Bachmann didn't seem surprised by the reaction.

"I'm headed to Iowa," she told The Ballot Box. "I think that's why" there's the speculation. 

Her staff wouldn't rule out the possibility.

"Nothing is off the table," Bachmann chief of staff Andy Parrish told ABC News. "The congresswoman is excited about her first trip to Iowa this year."



Bachmann, who founded the House Tea Party Caucus, finished the year with close to $2 million in her campaign coffers after raising some $13 million on her way to winning a third term in 2010. That has prompted speculation she might challenge Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

But any bid for statewide office in Democratic-leaning Minnesota would be risky because Bachmann has based her career on courting controversy and staking out staunchly conservative positions. 

Whether or not she mounts a campaign for the GOP presidential nod, Indiana-based Republican strategist Kurt Luidhardt said it's beneficial for Bachmann to raise her national profile.

"People think she can run. Not every member of Congress is having that same kind of attention," Luidhardt said. 

--Updated at 5:50 p.m.