Michele Bachmann's five most regrettable expenses
Michele Bachmann's campaign is fading fast. If you squint, it disappears completely.
That's partly because Bachmann's poll numbers have moved from the basement to the underground bunker. And it doesn't help that her staffers are beginning to pack up and move away for greener, saner pastures.
But, as with all modern American campaigns, the first line of Bachmann for President's obituary will read, "She ran out of money." Once a fundraising juggernaut as a congresswoman, on the national stage Bachmann has been overshadowed by Mitt Romney, Rick Perry -- not to mention her own alter egos, Church Lady and Conspiracy Lady, who wouldn't even be able to get money from people at the bus stop.
Because only the period from June 13 to June 30 is currently available, City Pages thought it would look back through the early, carefree days of spending for Bachmann's campaign, and see where she went wrong.
1) America Direct, $94,191
Bachmann's fundraising strategy has always been the same: Send out real letters to people's home address, and ask them to send you money back. This gets pretty expensive, and fast. In just the first week after she announced her candidacy for president, Bachmann dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct mail fundraising, including more than $94,000 with America Direct, a Virginia-based mailing outfit.
She also tried to single-handedly revive the American postal system, spending $89,000 with the Virginia Postmaster, and about $48,000 with the United States Postal Service out of Woodbury. This is, quite literally, the most expensive way to raise a dollar in America, unless she was going to hire the kids from "Glee" to do door-to-door singing telegrams. Speaking of singing...
2) American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and Broadcast Music Inc., $899 (total)
These are actually the first two officially documented expenses out of the "Bachmann for President" campaign account. They were meant to pay for the rights to Tom Petty's "American Girl," owned by ASCAP, and Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine," which were to be Bachmann's official campaign songs. These songs were meant to convince us that she's 1) American and 2) super happy!
Instead, Petty immediately sent a cease and desist letter, and Katrina Leskanich of Katrina and the Waves put out a statement which read, "[I]f I disagree with the policies, opinions or platforms for its use, I've no choice but to try and defend the song and prevent its misuse. Music can be both powerful and moving and sometimes even a little dangerous." Ouch. This is like if Michele Bachmann went to the party with all the cool kids in 1976, then started dancing to the Rolling Stones... only for Keith Richards to stagger in, look right at Bachmann and say, "No, not you."
3) Strategy Group for Media, $37,340
This Ohio-based advertising firm, which helped Tea Partier Rand Paul get elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, was responsible for producing Bachmann's ads in the first stage of her presidential campaign. Say what you will about Michele, but those ads are nice to look at.
There are rolling shots of Iowa, with its plain landscapes and average folks, interspersed with Bachmann -- well-lit, miked-up and made-up -- looking into the camera and smiling. There were, of course, just two downsides to this advertising. First, Bachmann's own wild statements -- John Wayne Gacy! Slavery wasn't so bad! God sent Hurricane Irene! -- have consistently drowned out any positive television spin. And, second, these fancy ads only reveal just how terrible her television spots of today are; they look like hostage videos begging for money.
4) Cu Restaurant, $307
In late June, when she was riding high, Bachmann took a night out in the town of her youth, Waterloo, Iowa. This restaurant seems to specialize in meat cooked with sweet stuff: Cranberry Pork, Bing Cherry Chicken, and Maple Leaf Duck with a plum chutney are a few sugary proteins on offer. Certainly, Bachmann's little treat of a nice hometown meal can be excused.
But it's indicative of a larger problem in her campaign. Michele bet the house on winning the Ames Straw Poll, lingering in that state, and making Iowa-specific television ads over a period of weeks. And guess what? She won the straw poll, and now no one outside Iowa gives a damn. Bachmann's scraping the barrel in New Hampshire, and is now slightly less popular in south Florida than Fidel Castro.
5) MicheleBachmann.com, $2,000,000
This was the real kick-off of Bachmann for President, when Michele took $2 million from her congressional warchest and rolled it over into her presidential campaign.
At the time, this seemed a fairly typical maneuver -- a little jump start for her presidential run, especially given that Bachmann had about $13 million in congressional cash to spend. Now it looks more like a terrible waste. That $2 million wasn't the mouth of a tremendous river of cash; it was a bucket of water dumped in an empty swimming pool. (Jump right in, folks!) If Bachmann is broke now, this $2 million probably only bought her a couple more weeks to sing and dance for the few people who are still coming out to see her.
The best choice, for everyone, would've been for Bachmann to keep all her money and stay home. Instead, she spent several million dollars on a campaign that set sail only because the hot, heaving breaths of America's most frightened senior citizens pushed it away from the docks. Now, the laughter of the smart set is hurtling it back in to Minnesota, where it will land, inevitably unloading chests of ill will for her home state.
Michele Bachmann for President has been, effectively, the most expensive negative ad campaign ever run against the state of Minnesota. Maybe we should start pooling our money, and figure out how much it will cost to get our reputation back.
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