Bachmann careful not to alienate her most generous donor bloc: Retirees

Chris Moody

Minnesota Republican congresswoman--and now presidential candidate--Michele Bachmann raised more money from retirees than any other demographic last year, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Of the $13.5 million Bachmann raised as a House member in 2010, more than $1 million came from American retirees.

A known fund-raising powerhouse, the three-term congresswoman raked in more than $2 million in the first three months of 2011, and is expected to make an impressive showing when new numbers are revealed later this month. In the last election cycle, the Tea Party Caucus founder raised more money than any of her colleagues in the House, and she doesn't even hold a leadership position in the chamber.

But the age of her donating base could pose a challenge for the party's newest candidate: Bachmann must navigate a political climate in which the most heated debate is over whether to cut benefits for seniors.

In April, Bachmann voted for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget, which included major changes to the nation's Medicare system. She also voted for an alternative budget drafted by the conservative Republican Study Committee that went even further than Ryan's suggestions by raising the retirement age and turning Medicare into a voucher system for Americans 59 years old and younger.

When pressed about her support for the plans, however, Bachmann declined to stand behind every part of the budget she voted for.

"This is an aspirational document, it's not legislation," she said during a Fox News interview when questioned specifically about the cuts to Medicare. "We're  not saying that everything that's in that bill--aspirational document--will be the final result."

When presented with a report from the Congressional Budget Office showing that the plans she voted for would raise health care costs for seniors, Bachmann continued to clarify.

"I put an asterisk on my support," she said. "That is my area of concern. I support these bills with that proviso."

Expect to hear more of that from Bachmann, who no doubt intends to continue cashing checks from her most generous donor base.

(Photo of Bachmann: Charlie Neibergall/AP)