WASHINGTON — Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is likely to form an exploratory committee in June as the first formal step toward seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, close advisers said Thursday.
Forming the panel would allow her to start raising money for a campaign and hiring people, one adviser said.
"We are talking to people, identifying potential state directors, and she'll continue to step up her travel schedule," the adviser said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk to journalists.
Bachmann is likely to enlist tea party activists to help run her campaigns in key caucus and primary states. In Iowa, the site of the first precinct caucuses, she's expected to hire state Sen. Kent Sorenson as her state campaign director. In South Carolina, the site of the first Southern primary, tea party activist Sheri Few of Columbia is likely to play a key role, the Bachmann adviser said.
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Bachmann has said several times that she thinks she can wait until summer to join the race, which is starting later than usual. The adviser said she still didn't know whether she'd jump into the first three debates, scheduled for May 2 at the Reagan Presidential Library in California, May 5 in South Carolina and sometime in June in New Hampshire.
She'd be the second Minnesotan to form an exploratory committee, joining former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who announced this week that he'll form a committee.
Other likely candidates for the nomination include Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
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