Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was recently in Spartanburg, SC giving a speech to the local Tea Party, when she indirectly called out Sarah Palin by referring to ladies in attendance as Mama Grizzlies. We all know that this is Palin’s catch phrase, and she is counting on those female Republican voters in 2012, but is Michele Bachmann trying to swoop in and steal them away?
According to GoUpstate.com, “She recognized female activists and party officials in the room, calling them “Mama Grizzlies,” the phrase popularized by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. She called Spartanburg “the epicenter of the conservative comeback in this country.”” This may not seem like much until you consider that like Palin, Bachmann is a potential candidate for the 2012 Republican nomination. Bachmann intentionally used her catch phrase with a Tea Party audience. This reeks of Bachmann trying to muscle in on Palin’s political turf.
Bachmann appeared in one of the early primary states and used Palin’s catch phrase with the clear intent of setting herself up as the Tea Party alternative to Palin. Even though the Tea Party loves Palin, they don’t think that she is smart enough to be president. Despite the fact that Palin and Bachmann campaigned together in 2010, the two women are natural rivals for the 2012 GOP nomination. If both ran, they would be competing against each other for Tea Party votes. In the same way that Palin would be competing with Mike Huckabee for evangelical Christian primary votes.
Unlike Bachmann, Palin is nationally popular with the Republican Party, but she doesn’t have a natural constituency. A Representative from Minnesota does not make trips to South Carolina the year before a presidential election unless they are seriously considering a run for the White House. Bachmann’s use of the term Mama Grizzles was a way to jab Palin and gauge her response. Like most Republicans Bachmann appeared to be trying to get a read on whether Sarah Palin is going to run or not in 2012.
If Palin doesn’t run, Bachmann has begun to position herself as the candidate for the Mama Grizzlies. If Palin does run, Bachmann will offer the Mama Grizzlies an alternative to Palin. There can be no mistake about it. Michele Bachmann knew exactly what she was doing when she used the phrase Mama Grizzlies. Rep. Bachmann may be a deranged conspiracy theorist, but there is a reason why she keeps winning reelection. She knows how to campaign and appeal to her base.
Sarah Palin may be the ambitious Mama Grizzly who believes that the White House is her destiny, but Michele Bachmann is a political shark. If she and Sarah Palin were to run against each other in the GOP primary, I think that Bachmann would probably come out on top. However, the real winners of Bachmann and Palin feud would be Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. More division in the Tea Party equals an easier path to the nomination for each of them.
Michelle Bachmann went to South Carolina, and tried to put the Mama Grizzles in play over the weekend, and we will learn a great deal about Sarah Palin’s 2012 intentions by how or if she responds to Bachmann.