MINNEAPOLIS -- Rep. Michele Bachmann will return to her stronghold of Iowa Monday for a rally in Cedar Rapids. Her campaigned downplayed her last-place finish in the Florida Straw Poll on Saturday, telling supporters she's committed to going the distance.
Bachmann's strategy is to remain competitive in her home state of Iowa, in hopes a victory in the February 6th Iowa Caucuses will vault into front runner status again in the GOP presidential sweepstakes.
But the next test of viability is coming Friday, the deadline for quarterly campaign expenditure reports.
"Bachmann's not been doing well with the mega-donors," Hamline University's David Schultz told KARE Sunday. "In fact she has indicated she feels uncomfortable dialing for dollars, calling up the big donors."
Bachmann, who has won re-election to her 6th District congressional seat twice, has been a phenomenal fundraiser int he past. Most of those were small donors who were fellow religious conservatives and, more recently, Tea Party members.
"It's important to have enthusiastic small donors, but at this critical point it's really important for the Republicans candidates to gain the confidence of key Republican leaders across the nation," Kathryn Pearson, a University of Minnesota political science professor told KARE.
"And she's just not showing that she's able to do that at this point. She doesn't have a lot of key endorsements."
The latest USA Today Gallup Poll showed Bachmann's support among likely GOP primary voters had dropped to 5 percent, compared to 13 percent before Texas Gov. Rick Perry joined the fray.
On the same day that poll came out, September 20, Bachmann's senior adviser and former campaign manager said the Minnesota congresswoman doesn't have the "ability or resources" to succeed beyond Iowa at this point in time.
One of Bachmann's lines from Thursday night's GOP debate in Orlando, became fodder for Saturday Night Live's season opener. Bachmann said Americans should be able to keep all the money they earn, because it doesn't belong to the government.
Moments later, as part of the same answer, Bachmann explained, "Obviously we have to give money back to the government so that we can run the government."
But in the SNL version cast member Bill Hader, playing the role of FOX news anchor and debate moderator Shepherd Smith, asked, "You said you believed Americans should pay no taxes at all. How would that work?"
Fellow cast member Kristin Wiig, who has apparently worked to perfect her Bachmann imitation, answered, "Shep I believe paying no taxes can help us return to the America I love."
The SNL spin mirrored the opinion of many of the cable TV pundits, which is that the GOP primary has now become a two person race between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
But some of the most reliable political observers in Iowa say Bachmann remains viable there. Republican fundraiser Becky Beach is one of them.
"I think she'll need to be more aggressive in fundraising in the next few weeks, but in my opinion it's certainly not too late," Beach told the Des Moines Register.
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