Bachmann touts wide appeal, but has only backed three Dem bills this year

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who has claimed she appeals to voters across the political spectrum, has co-sponsored just three Democratic bills this year.

Of the 96 bills and resolutions Bachmann has formally endorsed, three were introduced by Democrats in the House. Bachmann backed those measures — two of which are honorary resolutions — before she formally announced her bid for the White House in June.

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Since winning the Iowa straw poll over the weekend, Bachmann has stressed she can defeat President Obama in the 2012 general election. While Bachmann has attracted the support of social and fiscal conservatives, one of her biggest vulnerabilities is electability.

In her multiple appearances on Sunday talk shows, Bachmann emphasized that both the left and right have embraced her candidacy.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Bachmann said, “I have been able to attract a lot of people to vote for me who are Democrats and independents.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the congresswoman noted she hails from a blue state and a swing district.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Bachmann said many voters who backed Obama in 2008 are now behind her bid for the White House.

But in Congress, she has not worked with many Democrats on legislation.

The only Democratic bills she has backed this year include Rep. Zoe Lofgren's (Calif.) Wireless Tax Fairness Act, Rep. Karen Bass's (Calif.) resolution on "Recognizing May as 'National Foster Care Month’ ” and Rep. Bob Filner’s (Calif.) measure that would “award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol."

Bachmann’s aggressive criticism of Obama and her unyielding stance on a range of issues have resonated with many conservatives. She has repeatedly called for the repeal of Obama’s healthcare law and the 2010 Wall Street reform law. And unlike GOP leaders in Congress, Bachmann has presented herself as uncompromising on raising the federal debt limit.

Political analysts say that in order for Bachmann to claim the nomination, she must convince GOP voters and kingmakers in the party that she can win in November of next year. Critics of Bachmann say her track record in Congress is thin and claim she is too polarizing to win over independent voters.

During her interview on “Meet the Press,” Bachmann cited her bipartisan work before coming to Washington: “I’ve also been in the state Senate, where I’ve been very successful turning around education reform in Minnesota. I led that effort in Minnesota. I brought Republicans and Democrats and independents together. I did that.”

Chris Arterton, professor and founding dean of the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, said that it is early in the primary season for Bachmann to start trying to appeal to a broader electorate.

He said, “The Republican Party has some very deep rifts in it. And Bachmann’s problem is bridging across that rift. At some point, she has to do that in order to be an effective general-election candidate. But I think it’s early, and I think it’s ultimately going to prove to be a bridge too far.”

Leonard Steinhorn, professor of communication at American University, said that it is unnecessary — as well as a stretch — for Bachmann to make a strong case that she has a record of reaching across the aisle.

“Her campaign is not going to be won because she can reach across the aisle,” Steinhorn said. “There’s really no reason to come off as wishy-washy or as a compromiser. The Tim Pawlenty message — which is ‘I can govern, I can work in this environment’ — didn't captivate people. So I don't think people are going to move toward that.”

Bachmann’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

The other two members of Congress who are seeking the GOP presidential nomination, Reps. Ron Paul (Texas) and Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), have co-sponsored more Democratic bills than Bachmann in the 112th Congress.

Out of the 204 bills Paul has co-sponsored, 33 were introduced by Democrats. He also introduced a bill to legalize marijuana with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in May. McCotter has signed on to 14 Democratic bills, out of the 151 of which he is a co-sponsor.

Of the 379 bills Bachmann co-sponsored in the last Congress, 65, or about 17 percent, were Democratic bills. Nineteen of those measures were symbolic, such as naming post offices and acknowledging holidays and/or congratulatory resolutions.

In early July, Bachmann said, “I think it’s important for people to know that I’m not highly partisan and that I can work with other people,” describing her work with Democrats like Kind, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and and Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin to set aside $700 million for a bridge across the St. Croix River.

Kind is the only Democrat this year to co-sponsor a Bachmann-crafted bill, which deals with the bridge.