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Michele Bachmann Memoir: GOP Candidate Highlights Past Political Rebounds

Michele Bachmann Memoir 2012 Campaign

By BRIAN BAKST   11/15/11 05:55 PM ET  AP

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Her GOP presidential bid in danger, Michele Bachmann describes in a new memoir two times where she thought a curtain had fallen on her political career, including an early election loss that made her swear off future campaigns.

Both stories end with a sudden rebound – something the Minnesota congresswoman could sorely use now as she fights to rescue her once-soaring campaign. Bachmann has gone from a top GOP contender as recently as August to a blip in most public opinion polls.

The 206-page book, "Core of Conviction," is set for official release Monday, six weeks before Iowa voters open the presidential nominating contest.

In it, Bachmann glowingly traces her path from childhood in an Iowa household just scraping by to an insurgent politician who rose in just a few years from neophyte to presidential hopeful.

But she sprinkles in speed bumps she hit on the way.

One came in 1999 when the stay-at-home-mom and "retired" tax lawyer decided to run for school board out of frustration over new state education standards. She aligned herself with four others hoping to shake up the Stillwater board, all of whom were campaign novices.

"What a mistake," Bachmann writes, noting they all lost. "It was a chastening experience, losing an election among your friends and neighbors is no fun. As a result I resolved not to risk embarrassing myself ever again."

Bachmann soon set that personal pledge aside. The next spring, she toppled a GOP incumbent she regarded as too moderate on her way to winning a seat in the Minnesota Senate. In the book, she dubs herself "the first Minnesota Tea Partier" after the 2000 win – a reference to the libertarian/conservative movement that sprung up years later that Bachmann became deeply identified with.

Bachmann's other near-miss came in 2008 when she was trying for a second term in Congress. She almost derailed herself by going on cable TV and questioning then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's patriotism, urging the media to "do a penetrating expose" on elected officials to determine if they are "pro-America or anti-America."

Her Democratic opponent instantly saw a gusher of campaign cash, and Bachmann reveals her internal polling tumbled – a 13-point lead becoming a four-point deficit. Advisers were urging her to film a TV ad apologizing. Bachmann went part way, saying in an ad that she "may not always get my words right" and decided to reassure supporters she would stick by principles.

Bachmann narrowly hung on.

In the current campaign, she has struggled with comments deemed false or inflammatory. In September, she drew wide criticism for suggesting that a vaccine against the human papillomavirus, known as HPV, could cause mental retardation. Bachmann said then she was simply conveying the story of a concerned mother.

Bachmann doesn't get into the campaign gaffes in the book, but she indirectly acknowledges past missteps.

"I've learned the hard way at the national level that any erroneous statement will very quickly be magnified," she writes. "So, as someone who talks for a living, I've learned to check, double-check and triple-check my sources. And yet I still make a mistake or two!"

In her closing chapter, Bachmann said her key to victory is to not stray from her conservative principles.

"I believe that a conventional, play-it-safe campaign will ensure that America has to endure another four years of Barack Obama and his wrecking-crew policies," she writes. "That is, if the Republican presidential nominee fails to energize key constituencies, or worse, if the nominee is seen as insincere, then we will lose."

The book is being published by Sentinel, a conservative imprint of Penguin Group (USA).

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Filed by Luke Johnson  |