Rep. Bachmann fills vacuum, announces rebuttal to president's jobs speech

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), struggling to maintain visibility as a Republican presidential candidate, will rebut President Obama's jobs speech to Congress on Thursday, her congressional office said.

Bachmann's remarks are scheduled for 8:30 p.m. in a House television studio, but will be timed to follow Obama, who is expected to propose about $300 billion in measures to bolster hiring in what the administration has dubbed the "American Jobs Act."

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There is no formal Republican response to Obama's speech, a void Bachmann appears poised to fill as she works to keep her name in the national discussion.

When Obama delivered his State of the Union address in January, Bachmann offered her own fiery response on behalf of the Tea Party movement, complete with chart, that aired live on CNN. But an apparent miscommunication over which camera was carrying the response on television led her to appear to be gazing off screen - a mix-up quickly seized upon by late-night comedians and Bachmann detractors.

Bachmann's decision to give her own State of the Union response netted her a lot of attention, but irked many establishment Republicans who thought she was upstaging the official GOP response by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). But Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) made no attempt Thursday to discourage Bachmann from post-gaming Obama's speech.

“The speaker has encouraged every Republican member to talk to their constituents about the policies the president will outline tonight - and about our own jobs plan," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Bachmann's solid performance in a previous presidential debate and her win in a Republican straw poll in Ames, Iowa, in August ratcheted her up to first-tier-candidate status and solidified her image as a conservative purist unafraid to launch sharp jabs at Democrats on both economic and social issues. But the same day she won the straw poll, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) entered the race, consuming much of the political space Bachmann had carved out for herself.

Since then, Bachmann has seen her poll numbers fall, and she returned to the background in Wednesday night's debate, unable to penetrate the front-and-center exchanges between Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

-- This post was updated 11:35 a.m.

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