- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The choices made by Iowa Republicans on Tuesday helped focus the race for the GOP nomination for president. It’s certainly a relief that the debate stage will be less crowded, but it’s worth noting what has been lost: the Tea Party’s highest-profile opponent of Obamacare.

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s decision Wednesday to drop out of the race for the White House ended the national platform she used to mount a single-minded campaign against government overreach. The only woman in the Republican field espoused the broader principles of less government and a stricter interpretation of the Constitution.

Though the Iowa-born politico won the Ames straw poll in August, she had a bad loss in Tuesday’s caucuses, coming in a distant sixth place with 6,073 votes. Losing her Midwest support and low on campaign cash, the Minnesota Republican said she would end the campaign but not give up her fight to “defeat the president’s socialism.” She didn’t say if she would be running for re-election to return to Capitol Hill or seek some other office.

Throughout the primary, Mrs. Bachmann always put repealing the president’s health care law at the top of her agenda. In her pullout speech on Wednesday, she said she was inspired to run because, “It was my obligation to ensure that President Obama’s program of socialized medicine was stopped before it became fully implemented.” She made clear, “Obamacare represents the largest expansion of entitlement spending in our country’s history. And it has now become the playground of left-wing social engineering - where the right will always lose every battle and the left has already been given the formula for passing their agenda.”

Her proposed alternative was to harness the free market to drive down costs of health-insurance policies by letting people buy into plans across state lines. She also would allow all medical-related expenses to be paid for with pre-tax earnings.

While her campaign never had enough money or a broad enough issue base to make her the party’s front-runner, on several occasions she silenced critics with her debating skills. She shined particularly in June in New Hampshire, leaving the audience wowed. Mrs. Bachmann also proved herself worthy of the national stage when discussing foreign policy. Her seat on the House intelligence committee provided the background needed to demonstrate a mastery of national-security issues.

Liberals in the media had it out for Mrs. Bachmann from the start. As she surged in the polls, Newsweek magazine chose a cover photograph of her with her eyes looking beyond the camera, which made her look off-kilter. The headline “Queen of Rage” was designed to support the left’s fiction that conservative women must be crazy. The talking heads considered her nothing more than a mini-me Sarah Palin and unfairly invented jealousy between the two female GOP national politicians.

Michele Bachmann ran a strong campaign that helped unite Republicans on the ultimate goals of 2012: overturning Obamacare in the Supreme Court and then Mr. Obama himself in the election booth.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.