Former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, while refusing to endorse any of the four remaining competitors, suggested the contest may end soon and that money will be the factor that narrows the field.
“All four have strengths, and they all have weaknesses,” Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “That’s what this whole primary process is about right now. And people will make their decisions.”
Bachmann, who dropped out of the race on Jan. 4 after finishing sixth in the Iowa caucuses, said the party’s nominee will become clear long before other candidates have quit.
“I think it could be fairly soon, but, you know, Ron Paul has said he will go all the way to the convention,” she said. “Newt has said he will, also.Rick Santorum has said he will. But the practicality is money is a big part of it, and it’ll be up to the candidates whether they can pay.”
There has been an “economic advantage” in the race, she said without identifying front-runner Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor. Romney, winner of the New Hampshire (BEESNH) and Florida (BEESFL) primaries, raised $57 million last year, including $24 million during the last three months, according to Federal Election Commission reports this week.
Newt Gingrich, who won South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary, raised $12.7 million for his campaign last year, including $9.8 million from October through December.
Bachmann, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, also said the U.S. needs to take “very seriously” indications that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iran is developing capabilities to produce nuclear weapons.
James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, testified about Iran’s activities before the panel yesterday.
“It was very clear that Iran is making very aggressive statements that we could potentially be looking at terrorist activity here in the United States,” she said.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said this week the window of opportunity to act effectively against Iran’s nuclear program is closing and, if sanctions fail, military action must be considered.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other U.S. officials have repeatedly warned Israel not to act alone against Iran.
Asked whether Israel would be justified in striking Iran, Bachmann said it’s up to Israel’s top leaders to decide.
‘Safety and Security’
“Any nation has to protect the safety and security of their people,” she said. “It is the nation of Israel that is being targeted by Iran, as well as the United States. We need to be vigilant. The Israelis need to be vigilant. And I think they’re taking prudent steps to keep their people safe.”
In the presidential race, Bachmann noted she is the only candidate to exit the field who hasn’t endorsed any of the remaining contenders. Texas Governor Rick Perry is backing Gingrich, as is Georgia businessman Herman Cain. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman gave his support to Romney.
Bachmann, a House member since 2007 and a leader of the conservative Tea Party movement, said she wants to be a unifying figure in the fall elections who can help propel the party’s nominee to the White House.
“I want to make sure that our nominee wins,” Bachmann said. “And so my goal is to be a unifying person who brings the factions together, because now primaries produce factions within a party. My goal is to bring the Tea Party, evangelicals, mainstream, establishment and also independents and disaffected Democrats.”