Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann’s announcement Wednesday that she won’t see re-election next year has drawn applause and ridicule from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
The Tea Party Patriots, which calls itself the conservative movement’s largest group, called the Minnesota Republican and tea party favorite an “outstanding and fearless leader in Congress” and praised her for holding true to her conservative principles.
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“She has fought against growing government, Obamacare, waste, fiscal irresponsibility and against the ruling elite that has fought tooth and nail against Tea Party Patriots and the movement,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the group’s co-founder and national coordinator, in a prepared statement.
“Michele believes in the American people who make up the tea party and has fought for our principles with tenacity and fearlessness.”
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon said Mrs. Bachmann has been a “tireless advocate and dedicated representative for the people of Minnesota’s Sixth District” since she was first elected to the House in 2006.
“She has worked hard each day to ensure that her constituents’ voices are heard in the halls of Congress,” he said in a statement.
Mrs. Bachmann, who announced her decision in a website video, said that since presidents are limited to two four-year terms, then “in my opinion, well, eight years is also long enough for an individual to serve as a representative for a specific congressional district.”
She said her decision wasn’t influenced by concerns about being re-elected to the House or recent inquiries regarding the campaign finances of her failed 2012 presidential campaign.
Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer said the public shouldn’t question her motives for stepping down.
“Her saying, ‘hey, I’ve been here eight years it’s time to go back’ … I know we always look at it cynically, but the fact of the matter is, it’s a tough life for a lot of people to live,” Mr. Spicer told MSNCB. “It’s great that she’s returning home. I don’t think the founders ever intended for people to come to Washington to make a life-long career out of it.”
Mr. Spicer added that she’s been valuable lawmaker and proficient fundraiser. “I think she wanted to leave on her terms,” he said.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee suggested Mrs. Bachmann is retiring “instead of facing a variety of ethics investigations.”
“Michele Bachmann’s tea party brand of extremism and obstruction have infected the entire Republican Congress, and her influence shows no signs of waning,” said DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner. “This Republican Congress will continue to turn off Americans of all political stripes because they’re using the Bachmann playbook: put politics before solutions.”
Democrat Jim Graves, who Mrs. Bachmann narrowly beat last November to retain her seat and who is running again for the seat in 2014, said the Republican’s decision was “good for America.”
“The polling information wasn’t very favorable for her, and I think the pathway to victory was almost impossible,” Mr. Graves told the Huffington Post. “Quite frankly, there’s no room for a theocracy. We’re a democracy. From that standpoint, I do have a smile on my face.”