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FACTBOX-Republican presidential contender Bachmann

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 15 Jun 2011 19:18 GMT
Author: Reuters
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WASHINGTON, June 15 (Reuters) - Representative Michele Bachmann was one of the winners of this week's debate between Republican presidential hopefuls for the party's 2012 nomination.

Here are a few facts about Bachmann:

* Bachmann, 55, is founder and head of the House of Representatives' Tea Party Caucus. She was one of the first elected officials to court the Tea Party that helped fuel Republican gains in the 2010 midterm elections with calls for spending cuts and reduced government.

* Surprisingly for such a staunch Republican, Bachmann was once a Democrat and worked on Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign. "The first time I ever went to Washington, DC, I went to dance at Jimmy Carter's inaugural ball," Bachmann said last year. She says the turning point came while she was reading a "snotty" Gore Vidal novel "Burr," that she says mocked the founding fathers and made her realize that she must be a Republican. She had also become disillusioned at Democrats' support for abortion rights and their economic policies.

* A mother of five, she has has been a foster parent to 23 other children, Bachmann launched her political career as an advocate for charter schools and a critic of high taxes.

* Bachmann's views, heated rhetoric and fiery attacks on President Barack Obama, have won her fans among conservative activists and donors. She raised more than ${esc.dollar}13 million for her 2010 House campaign, more than any other House candidate.

* Before deciding to pursue the presidency, Bachmann, a born-again Christian, said she had been praying for guidance on whether to run.

* Although she is seen as having done well at the Republican debate in New Hampshire on Monday, she has a history of gaffes and over-the-top rhetoric. Bachmann's long stare into the wrong camera while giving the Tea Party's response to Obama's State of the Union address in January was widely lampooned.

* Before the 2008 election she said Obama "may have anti-American views" and suggested that "anti-American" members of Congress be investigated. (Compiled by JoAnne Allen; editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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