Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has many friends in the House, but when it comes to snagging a presidential endorsement, she may not be able to rely on her closest confidants.
Bachmann, a congresswoman since 2007, has not received any nods from her colleagues in the lower chamber, and it is likely that even Rep. Steve King of Iowa and Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas--part of a group so close that they're known as "the three amigos"-- won't go to bat for her either.
"I'm not ready," King told The Ticket when asked if he will endorse a candidate, a question the tea party favorite has fielded several times since Bachmann announced her campaign. "This is a great big decision and if it were just personalities, that decision would have already been made. We're still in the middle of this test yet."
For Gohmert, the question of his endorsement is more about having too many friends in the contest. Although he says that he is "extremely close" with Bachmann, Gohmert has personal relationships with every candidate except former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: Gohmert has known Texas Gov. Rick Perry since college; he once invited former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to his home district for a fundraiser; he has looked to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for guidance on several occasions; and, as he puts it, he has a "mutual admiration society going on" with businessman Herman Cain.
"I'm not planning on endorsing anybody anytime soon," Gohmert said.
Ever since the battle over President Obama's health care overhaul and the attempt to stimulate the economy through a government spending scheme, the three lawmakers have been virtually inseparable. National Review's Robert Costa described just how close they are, calling the two "Bachmann's lieutenants":
"They're more than friends; they're her in-House soldiers. . . .When Bachmann last year launched an ill-fated bid for the conference chairmanship, they were in her camp, counting noses. When Bachmann created the Tea Party Caucus, they were among the first to sign up. When she began to mull a presidential bid, they counseled her. The evening before the Ames Straw Poll, which Bachmann won, Gohmert warmly introduced her at a campaign event. After her victory, King complimented her message. . . . They pray together, dine together, and huddle on the House floor. At one point, King and Bachmann even shared staff."
But as anyone involved in electoral politics can attest, it's nothing personal.
Gohmert told The Ticket that Bachmann "would make a fantastic president" and King singled her out as the the one candidate that "gets the principles right." But there's more to being president than having a strong message.
King learned the hard way in the last presidential election cycle the importance of choosing his candidate wisely. He jumped on the Fred Thompson bandwagon in December 2007--a campaign that started off with high hopes but quickly fizzled out. This year, he plans to decide before December--and to ensure that the candidate he puts his name behind has staying power.
There is one thing that King says he's still looking for in a candidate: a concrete vision.
"It's one thing to say we're going to go in and undo a lot of the things that happened under the Obama administration--and absolutely we must, you got to clear the decks--but on the other side of that, what are the principles?" he said. "What does America look like? What inspires us? What takes us to another level behind the shining city on a hill? And if a candidate can articulate that and capture that vision, I think, will be the next president."
As for whether Bachmann has contacted him for his endorsement, King said it was "personal" and declined to say. Gohmert said he had not spoken to her about it.
Regardless, when the campaign is over, Gohmert and King hope to go back to their old, rabble-rousing ways, united once again with Washington D.C.'s tea party heroine.
"We are good friends. I hope we remain good friends," King said--another suggestion that when he announces his endorsement decision, it probably won't be for Bachmann. "I expect that will be the case."