As I previously noted, one of the most interesting and underreported aspects of Sarah Palin’s return to the presidential campaign radar screen this week is the conflict this creates with the Republican whom many consider to be her clone: Michelle Bachmann.
While it’s not clear whether Palin’s Northeast bus tour this weekend is an unofficial campaign kickoff or just a celebrity publicity event, Bachmann’s presidential push is going full steam ahead. After her “money bomb” e-mail netted her more than $250,000 in a little more than a day, the Minnesota congresswoman is preparing to announce her candidacy in Iowa soon. But, as Politico reports, the Bachmann camp is concerned, and with good reason, at the way Palin could torpedo her campaign.
Bachmann’s people say they are ignoring Palin’s activity but they are quick to point out that their woman has a longer and seemingly better political resume than the former Republican vice presidential candidate. They’re right about that but considering Palin’s enormous celebrity, there’s little question that the Alaskan’s entry into the race could quickly render Bachman irrelevant.
The dynamic between the two seems to be complicated. Palin campaigned for Bachmann last year and there’s very little, if any, difference between the two on the issues. Though the two not only appeal to the same demographic but also have eerily similar styles and personas, there appears to be some backbiting between the two camps. Palinites think Bachmann is strictly a knock-off of Palin while Bachmannites think Palin is a short-termer more interested in publicity than policy. Some are even speculating that it is Bachmann’s boomlet that is motivating Palin to get back on the road where she can reassert her status as the dominant GOP conservative female icon. That may be a bit simplistic but there’s no question that if Palin doesn’t run, Bachmann’s candidacy will dim Sarah’s star quite a bit.
Though Palin’s camp may think she can parachute into the race at any point in the next few months, Bachman’s head start in Iowa will make such a candidacy difficult. Though, as Alana noted earlier today, Romney’s people seem to think they can cruise to victory by bashing Palin or Bachmann, either of these charismatic women have the ability to beat him in a state where conservatives dominate. And their grass roots support among evangelicals and Tea Party activists in Iowa could sink Tim Pawlenty if he isn’t able to generate more momentum.
Until she withdraws her name from consideration as a Republican candidate, Palin will continue to overshadow Bachmann. Only when Palin’s presidential flirtation ends will Bachmann be able to stop looking over her shoulder.