The XX Factor

Bachmann Will Form a Presidential Exploratory Committee

While Sarah Palin dilly-dallies on the question of whether she’s going to run for president , Michele Bachmann is moving full steam ahead. CNN reports this morning that a source close to Bachmann says she’ll form a presidential exploratory committee in June, or possibly even earlier so she can participate in GOP debates. She’s already traveled to Iowa, one of the early presidential testing grounds-again, unlike Palin -along with South Carolina and New Hampshire. The CNN leak came not quite three months after she first floated the idea of running , to general surprise, and after a couple of days during which she pointedly flamed speculation with statements like “I’m in for 2012 in that I want to be a part of the conversation in making sure that President Obama only serves one term, not two.”

Bachmann sure seems like a longshot, but on some measures, like “positive intensity” among Republicans , she’s at the top of the pack, along with Huckabee. (Palin is fourth by that metric.) I’d put the real-life chances she’d actually win the nomination at slim-to-none, but a Bachmann candidacy would accomplish a couple of things: 1) She’d dramatically raise her own profile, something she clearly seems hellbent on doing, and 2) She’d be a spoiler for Palin. The two are too similar to not have overlapping bases. I’m curious to see if this affects Palin’s calculus on whether to run. Maybe Palin will respond to Bachmann’s aggression with some of her own-or maybe she’ll decide that open Arizona Senate seat doesn’t look all that piddling .

Photograph of Rep. Michele Bachmann by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.