The XX Factor

Why Did Michele Bachmann Have Her Own Rally on the Mall?

Media estimates for attendance at Glenn Beck’s rally in Washington on Saturday have varied widely-the CBS figure is 87,000 -but Minnestota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann told supporters to ignore such estimates : “We’re not going let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million here today because we were witnesses,” Bachmann said. The odd thing isn’t Bachmann’s cheerleading; it’s that she did it at her own separate rally on the mall, attended by a crowd of about 1,000. Bachmann headlined the event, sponsored by her campaign, which she dubbed a “town hall meeting.” The conservative Web site Frum Forum framed a piece about the event as ” Bachmann Tries To Steal Beck’s Thunder .” Bachmann leads the House Tea Party Caucus, and in recent weeks-in part fueled by her planned appearance at the Beck event-there’s been speculation that she’s trying to increasingly distance herself from House Republicans. But why also set herself off from the main event? Well, for one, Beck said his event was going to be “nonpolitical”; Bachmann’s was anything but. Indeed, Bachmann told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that she wants to use her PAC “like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) uses his, spending money and making endorsements in Republican primaries. DeMint has been a thorn in the side of party leaders, often endorsing against the establishment’s choice,” according to Politico . And that’s exactly what Bachmann did on Saturday, namechecking Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and Pat Toomey. Bachmann might be channeling DeMint, but I can’t help but be reminded of the highest-profile GOP endorser these days, Sarah Palin. Bachmann’s been around national politics longer than Palin, but it’s the latter who spoke at the main event on Saturday. I wonder if there’s a bit of sour grapes on that front from Bachmann, who, while still a huge conservative star, sort of exists as a sub-Palin figure these days. There’s no real evidence to back this up, of course-this imagined catfight is a liberal’s gossipy fantasy. (The two women spoke at a rally together in April , even prompting Palin/Bachmann 2012 speculation, and Bachmann wrote a Politico op-ed in July thanking Palin for all her fundraising work .) Still, though, is there room for two kingmaking queen bees in the Republican Party?