Tea Party favorite and former presidential contender Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) brought in $4.5 million to her campaign in the third quarter of 2012 -- the largest fundraising haul for any House member thus far in the current election cycle.
Regarded as a prolific fundraiser, Bachmann's 2010 reelection campaign collected $13.5 million in total, topping House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) by more than $3 million. Her latest cash flow bested the second quarter total of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla), who brought in $4 million.
After her presidential run ended, the congresswoman's campaign had $1 million in debt on the books. But her campaign manager, Chris Knoll, said fundraising prospects had only been helped by her foray into the presidential campaign arena.
“One of the benefits of the presidential run was the significant expansion of her already impressive donor base,” Knoll told MinnPost in February. “Avoiding specifics, I can tell you that the last fortnight has demonstrated the productivity of that new list. We remain highly confident in our fundraising.”
But even after posting numbers of more $1 million in July, the representative still had less cash on hand than her Democratic challenger, Jim Graves. Graves, who has not raised nearly as much money as Bachmann, possesses a considerable personal fortune that he could use in the last weeks before the election. ABC News reported that 25 to 35 percent of his final outlay might come out of his own pocket by the race's end.
According to a September poll commissioned by the Graves campaign, the Democrat is only trailing Bachmann by 2 percentage points, 46 to 48 percent. Although the seat was originally looked upon as an easy win for the incumbent, the race has since tightened.
Bachmann's campaign manager, Chris Knoll, seemed concerned that the congresswoman needed to raise more funds -- and quickly. On Wednesday, he announced that the campaign would be undertaking one of its "boldest initiatives yet" by attempting to raise $500,000 in less than 48 hours.
"Some might call this a 'money-bomb;' most would call it ambitious, to say the least," Knoll wrote in a fundraising email announcing the initiative. "I'll call it what it really is: a shield against an onslaught of attacks on our values from those who would trample them. You could call it the 'Shield Our Values' money-bomb."
The "money-bomb" tactic -- which involves raising immense amounts of cash in short timeframes through focused resources and messaging -- is a hallmark of another skilled fundraiser, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tx.).
But Bachmann has become best known for employing a technique that the Washington Post describes as the "money blurt." To successfully conduct a money blurt, one simply says something controversial or ideologically resonant in a public forum and then positions oneself to collect the fundraising windfall.
For instance, the Washington Post found that Bachmann took in nearly $1 million after she told Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball that she suspected Obama of having "anti-American views." And in the summer of 2010, her campaign chests loaded up with $5 million in donations following a slew of appearances in which she floated the idea of impeaching the president and accused him of “turning our country into a nation of slaves.”
As Adam Bonica noted in the Boston Review, "the most successful small-money fund-raisers mix media exposure with partisan taunting and ideological appeals."