By Michael O'Brien - 06/27/11 10:15 AM EDT
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will look to build on signs of momentum for her presidential campaign when she formally launches her bid for the Republican nomination on Monday in Iowa.
The Minnesota congresswoman will speak in Waterloo, her birthplace, amid signs that her insurgent candidacy is beginning to gain traction, especially in the Hawkeye State.
"In Iowa, I have a distinct advantage there, I think. And also, I think, since the debate, people have paid attention and they've recognized that I am very serious about what I want to do, because the country is on the wrong track," she said on "Fox News Sunday" after the poll's release. "People recognize I'm serious."
Bachmann won some plaudits for seriousness during her performance at that CNN debate earlier this month in New Hampshire, where she stole the spotlight by announcing onstage that she'd be entering the race. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) even praised Bachmann for a good debate performance; he said she "did a really good job" at the debate, and that she has "as good of a shot as anybody else" in the race.
Following her announcement, Bachmann will look to carry that momentum to New Hampshire and South Carolina, the two states that follow Iowa on the primary calendar, with events there in Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
The third-term congresswoman is banking on the idea that she can fill a void in the Republican field for a candidate aligned with the Tea Party, with which Bachmann has affiliated herself from its outset. She founded the congressional Tea Party Caucus and has been a vocal proponent for the movement.
Still, Bachmann's transformation into a presidential contender is something of a surprising one. She started to publicly flirt with running sometime this spring, especially after several high-profile candidates declined to enter the race. Since then she's built momentum by becoming a fixture on Fox News and in conservative media, promising to make the repeal of President Obama's healthcare law a primary issue in her candidacy.
But Bachmann's momentum could still be stymied by some of the late entries into the race. The popular assumption is that if former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) — who endorsed Bachmann for Congress last year — were to enter the race, the two would vie for the same voters. (Bachmann's said that Palin's decision whether to run didn't affect hers.) Other late contenders like Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) also threaten to sap some momentum from Bachmann's candidacy, especially with Tea Party supporters.