Rep. Michele Bachmann has been propelled into the 2012 presidential contest in part by her insistent calls to reduce federal spending, a pitch in tune with the big-government antipathy gripping many conservatives.
But the Minnesota Republican and her family have benefited personally from government aid, an examination of her record and finances shows. A counseling clinic run by her husband has received nearly $30,000 from the state of Minnesota in the last five years, money that in part came from the federal government. A family farm in Wisconsin, in which the congresswoman is a partner, received nearly $260,000 in federal farm subsidies.
And she has sought to keep federal money flowing to her constituents. After publicly criticizing the Obama administration's stimulus program, Bachmann requested stimulus funds to support projects in her district. Although she has been a fierce critic of earmarks — calling them "part of the root problem with Washington's spending addiction" — the congresswoman nonetheless argued recently that transportation projects should not be considered congressional pork.
As Bachmann prepares to formally launch her presidential bid Monday in Waterloo, Iowa, Republican strategists warned that she needs to square her record with her public pronouncements.
"She's kind of built an area in the field of candidates where she's the hawk on those kinds of issues, so any sort of issue that will show her record is not totally consistent will affect some of her support," said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa GOP. "I don't think it's a deal-breaker, but I think it's something she's going to have to be willing to confront head-on."