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Senate run vs. Franken may be too tempting for 'Pinocchio' Bachmann

“So Bachmann yet again earns Four Pinocchios.
Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann as last week. (AP Photo by Jacquelyn Martin)
Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann as last week.

“So [Michele] Bachmann yet again earns Four Pinocchios. But there really aren’t enough Pinocchios for such misleading use of statistics in a major speech.” – The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker”, March 19

That is how The Washington Post chose to conclude its latest of many, many-Pinocchioed checks of Michele Bachmann statements, and it's emblematic at how the dings against her reputation seem to be taking its toll.

Look no further than her CPAC speech, where she was relegated to Saturday morning and sandwiched between Newt Gingrich and Dr. Ben Carson (who got the "rock star" treatment after his speech). Her message of abortion, Benghazi and a non-existent presidential dog walker (for which Bachmann earned her other 4-Pinnochio performance this week) seem to have fallen on tired hears. Add in an inept presidential run and a squeaker of 2012 congressional win and you've got a candidate looking for an Act II.

The question is what does she do now to get back the mojo? Well, first she’ll have to decide whether she wants to aim for political survival or opportunism come 2014.

She's currently doing the sorts of things — out supporting local road projects — you'd expect of an incumbent aiming for another run (and possible rematch with her 2012 opponent).

But then there's Al Franken.

The former "Saturday Night Live" star is a soon-to-be 2014 incumbent senator looking for an opponent. And I'll pause a moment to let the idea of "Senator Michele Bachmann' creep up your spine.

Bachmann's been coy about a Senate run thus far. No doubt, remembering that she owes her seat to a Republican predecessor who thought he could beat Amy Klobuchar for an open senate seat in 2006. (He was 38% right).

Bachmann may read the writing on the wall, which begins with an approval rating at only 35% statewide. Break that number down and she’s popular among conservatives but gets anvil-over-the-head numbers from moderates and liberals.

The irony is that she may have the best chance of all the candidates to win the Republican nomination, which may prove too tempting if it's mojo she's after.

A January poll showed that while she would be the worst of four possible candidates versus Franken, she was the most popular among Republican primary voters — and by about 26 points.

Also, don’t’ forget that for all her many fact-checked flaws, Michele Bachmann is a money machine. The only House candidates to raise more money than her in 2012 were Speaker John Boehner and defeated Rep. Allen West, R-Florida. Oh, and just as a side note: the Minnesota state GOP is reportedly more than $1 million in debt. And that could make for an awkward situation: The candidate the party can most afford is the one least likely to win.

Then again, maybe all is not lost. At CPAC, the woman who once publicly questioned whether there was a link between HPV and vaccines “spoke at length about the virtues of government-backed medical research such as the polio vaccine.”

So maybe there’s hope for a Sen. Michele Bachmann yet.

UPDATE:Check out Martin Bashir and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, on Bachmann's 4 Pinocchios on Wednesday's show. (Starts at about 4:30)

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