Bachmann has skipped 37 percent of votes since launching bid

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has missed nearly 40 percent of votes in the House since she formally launched her presidential campaign.

Bachmann’s absentee rate, which is significantly higher than the two other House members running for president, could be used by her GOP opponents on the campaign trail.

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Bachmann, the chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus who has surged toward the top of the Republican presidential field, has missed 50 of 135 votes (37 percent) since formally announcing her candidacy June 27 in Waterloo, Iowa.

Bachmann is one of three House members seeking the Republican presidential nomination. GOP Reps. Ron Paul (Texas) and Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) are waging longshot bids for the party nod.

Paul has missed 25 of 307 votes — about 8 percent — since entering the race May 13. McCotter has missed almost 10 percent (13 of 135 votes) since starting his campaign at the beginning of this month.

Asked earlier this month whether she would forfeit some of her congressional salary, Bachmann replied, “No comment.”

When pressed, Bachmann said, “I’m not doing an interview with you now.”

Bachmann’s campaign did not comment for this article.

Bachmann has said she will not seek reelection to her House seat while pursuing the presidential nomination. But if her campaign falls short, she is expected to seek a fourth term representing her suburban Minneapolis district.

She was one of only 13 House Republican freshmen elected in the blue wave of 2006, and Democrats subsequently targeted her in 2008 and last year.

The interplay and conflict between official responsibilities and the rigors of campaigning aren’t unfamiliar to presidential candidates.

In 2003, then-Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) opted not to remain House minority leader as he prepared for his 2004 run for the White House.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) famously suspended his campaign briefly to focus on the crumbling financial system in the fall of 2008, a move that was panned as a campaign stunt at the time.

Ex-Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) resigned his seat in June 1996, a move intended to underscore his seriousness about his bid for the White House that year.

The effects of the presidential campaign on this year’s crop of candidates are clear in some instances. For example, both Paul and Bachmann missed four votes on June 13 that took place about an hour before they participated in a televised debate in New Hampshire.

The bulk of Bachmann’s absences came during last week’s session, though she returned briefly to the Capitol to participate in two votes: one to pass the Republican “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan regarding the debt limit, and another to fend off a Democratic challenge to that legislation.

Most of the Republican presidential candidates have the advantage of having already served their time in office. Of the announced candidates or possible late entries into the race — other than the three House members — only Texas Gov. Rick Perry would be a candidate to currently hold office during the campaign.

McCotter represents a centrist district in suburban Detroit, and has been targeted consistently by Democrats. His initial flirtations with running for president were thought to be a product of fears that his district might be redrawn, though his seat actually was bolstered by a map drafted by state Republicans.

McCotter hasn’t said yet whether he will seek reelection to his House seat while pursuing the GOP nomination.

Seeking two offices at the same time usually attracts criticism. In 2008, Paul had to fend off a primary challenger who ripped the lawmaker for not focusing on his Texas district.

This time around, Paul, 75, has said he is not seeking reelection to the House.


—Bob Cusack and Cristina Marcos contributed to this report.