In 2008, the Obama campaign revolutionized political fundraising with a massive Internet operation that enabled him to overcome Hillary Clinton’s advantage with large givers via a deluge of small contributors. Though all candidates are attempting to reach out to supporters via technology and social networks, it looks as if Republican outlier Michelle Bachmann is the one most determined to emulate the president she hopes to unseat in using the Internet to fund her campaign.
Today, Bachmann sent out an e-mail blast to supporters urging them to donate to her potential candidacy. Her goal is to raise $240,000 in 24 hours. While that isn’t much compared to the vast sums Mitt Romney has been raising on Wall Street, if she succeeds, it will be a sign that the Tea Party favorite’s effort to create a boomlet to launch her candidacy is starting to click. As Obama proved four years ago, if you have a message that resonates with a broad connected audience you can overcome even the most formidable financial resources deployed by your rivals.
But the fundraiser isn’t all Bachmann has going for her. Seeking to capitalize on the opening provided to pro-Israel Republicans by President Obama’s swipe at Israel this past week, Bachmann’s campaign has already put up an Internet ad asking readers to sign a petition attacking the president saying “Obama Betrays Israel.” The ad, which is linked to a microsite that is sponsored by her Congressional campaign committee, is aimed at Jewish and Israeli websites and will help her build an e-mail list of pro-Israel readers that will probably net her more Christian names than those of Jewish supporters.
Bachmann is hoping to use a coalition of Tea Party activists and conservative Christians to break out of the second tier of GOP candidates. While she has yet to declare her candidacy, her ability to tap into the Republican grass roots via the Internet proves that she could be a formidable primary and caucus opponent for a group of establishment candidates that are failing to generate as much fervor from the party rank and file.