If you had any doubt that Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign is little more than a vanity effort designed to snag camera time and sell copies of her hastily written memoir, add this to the evidence locker: According to internal campaign documents, her own treasurer says she has no plans to field employees or volunteers in Florida, Texas, Michigan, or California, and the campaign hopes at best to raise just $30 million—a lot less than it generally takes to win a national primary.
That's according to the Bachmann campaign's application for a liability insurance policy, which a source forwarded to us. (We agreed to only publish portions of it.) The application, which appears to have been filled out by hand last June by Bachmann's campaign treasurer Nancy Watkins, lays out Bachmann for America's fundraising and staffing plans through roughly June 2012, or just two months before the Republican National Convention where Bachmann wants us to think she expects to accept the GOP nomination. Let's just say she's thinking small.
The application, for instance, specifically asks the campaign how many full-time, part-time, and volunteer staffers or independent contractors it has in Florida, California, Michigan, Texas, and Washington, D.C. In each instance, Watkins wrote simply, "None planned." It might make strategic sense for Bachmann to skip the Michigan and Texas primaries, in which natives Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, respectively, will be heavily favored. And California's primary is scheduled so late in the season that the contest will likely be decided before it happens.
But Florida is a crucial state. Its primary will be just the fourth in the cycle, which is one reason Bachmann is publicly insisting that she "intend[s] to win Florida, and win it twice—once in the primary and once in the general election." That's a tough sell without volunteers, staffers, or contractors on the ground in the state. (Of course, the application only announces the campaign's intention back in June, when Bachmann formed her campaign committee. We asked the campaign whether it actually does have staffers or volunteers active in Florida—or Texas and Michigan—and haven't heard back.)
Overall, the application says, the campaign intends to have 50 paid staffers through June 2012, with "up to 400 [volunteers] for 2 or 3 day peak periods." That's not nothing, but it doesn't sound quite like the massive campaign steamroller that God traditionally assembles for candidate He's commanded to run.
The application also lists the campaign's projected revenues at $30 million through June 2012. Again, not nothing. But consider that in 2008, Mitt Romney raised $65 million—and spent $110 million, owing to his personal wealth—to lose the nomination, and it seems like something of a lowball number. When John McCain sat down to forecast his path to the nomination in early 2007, he predicted a haul of $71 million in that year alone.
In other words, people who think they can actually win don't think you can do it for $30 million. You can, however, become a household name and build a cult-like following of religious fanatics who will buy things from you. Like books.
Of course, the application is just some paperwork that a campaign functionary filled out several months ago, and it may not have accurately reflected the thinking of the campaign or Bachmann. For that, it's much better to look at what Bachmann is up to now. Like this Friday—Black Friday—when she'll be at the Mall of America signing books.
[Photos of Bachmann via AP]