In praising Tea Party, Bachmann swipes at Boehner's leadership

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) expressed sympathy on Monday for Tea Party groups' dissatisfaction with House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) leadership on the debt ceiling.

Bachmann, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, gave her blessings to representatives of Tea Party groups who, at a Monday event, questioned whether the Speaker had done enough to address spending or shown enough fight in negotiations over raising the U.S. debt limit.

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The Minnesota congresswoman didn't show at the event, and she didn't mention Boehner or any other Republican leader by name in the statement she released supporting Tea Party efforts. But she openly encouraged the Tea Party to "keep up the fight," a move that, while possibly complicating her relationship with leadership, could play into her posturing for a potential run for president.

"Thank you to the Tea Party for not giving up the fight. Your stubborn determination to return our country to its founding principles gives me great hope for conservative accomplishments in the current House of Representatives and for even greater victories in 2012," she said.

Bachmann insisted that any vote to raise the debt ceiling must be attached to a measure to fully defund President Obama's healthcare reform law — a long-shot provision, since the Senate remains in Democratic control.

In an additional swipe at Boehner, she said that the opportunity to cut 2011 spending had been "squandered" in the deal the Speaker negotiated with Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Several Tea Party leaders gathered at the National Press Club on Monday to "attack Boehner's leadership." The Speaker is slated to deliver a highly anticipated speech on economic policy this evening in New York City.

In addition to the pressure from conservatives, Democrats in the Senate have pushed Boehner at the same time to commit to raising the debt ceiling in a timely manner or risk a default, or at minimum damage to U.S. financial markets because of a delay in addressing the volatile issue.