Rep. Michele BachmannMichele BachmannFalwell faces flak for posing with Trump in front of Playboy The Trail 2016: On faith and the economy Michele Bachmann to advise Trump on evangelical issues MORE (R-Minn.) will form an exploratory committee by this summer if she decides to run for president next year.
A source close to Bachmann insisted Thursday the three-term lawmaker hasn't made a final decision. The source said the likelihood of a 2012 presidential bid "has increased" over the past several weeks but that "there's nothing set in stone."
There was a flurry of speculation about Bachmann's future plans Thursday morning after a report that said she plans to officially form a presidential exploratory committee by early June, with an announcement around the same time.
Bachmann, who's already putting together a team of staff and advisers in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, might announce even sooner to ensure that she's included in the early round of GOP primary debates, according to CNN.
The first presidential debate is set for May 2 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
Bachmann is in Iowa Thursday meeting with Republican elected officials and activists.
When asked about the CNN report by the Des Moines Register, Bachmann didn't dispute the June timeline, but she didn't confirm that she's made a decision on an exploratory committee.
“Well, we’ll be making a decision by this summer if we will or not," Bachmann told the paper. "We haven’t made a decision that we actually will. But our national timeline that we’re following will be this summer because I believe it’s important to be part of the Iowa Straw Poll going forward, so I think a decision would have to be made by then.”
Her office isn't confirming or denying the report. Bachmann spokesman Doug Sachtleben said the congresswoman is "grateful for all the encouragement she's received. She will make a decision about 2012 this summer."
Bachmann is set to address the Pastors' Policy Briefing in Iowa on Thursday — a gathering of influential conservatives. She also has a town-hall event scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Des Moines.
Bachmann's entry into the race would shake up the Republican field and pre-empt an official decision from the other female face of the Tea Party movement — former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
After former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Bachmann would be the second Minnesotan in the 2012 race.
Bachmann has been testing the waters in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, having made visits to both in recent weeks. There has also been speculation she could run for Senate next year, challenging Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDozens of senators push EPA for higher ethanol mandate Brother may I? Congress must reform senseless drug regulation Caution: drug competition not allowed MORE (D-Minn.).
—This post was updated at 12:37 p.m.