- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — An aide to Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, said on Thursday the tea party leader is likely to take the initial step in a White House bid.

Strategist Ed Brookover said Mrs. Bachmann could create a presidential exploratory committee as early as May. The first debates are May 2 in California and May 5 in South Carolina. Mr. Brookover said those events are factors as Mrs. Bachmann decides when to make a campaign official, but added that the debates alone are not going to make her decision.

Mrs. Bachmann has been traveling to the key early nominating states and lining up support.

Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorensen told the Associated Press that he would run the crucial first nominating state for Mrs. Bachmann should she run.