Calling herself the "consistent conservative" who can deliver a win in 2012, GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann on Monday predicted an upset at the Iowa caucuses.
"We're going person to person, mapping who will come out on caucus night. We've already identified more people than Mike Huckabee [who won the 2008 caucus]. It will be a shock," Bachmann told Sunshine State News in an exclusive interview from New York City.
The Minnesota congresswoman has been stuck in single digits in the polls, three months after winning the Ames, Iowa, straw poll this summer. But Bachmann says her campaign is on the rebound.
"Voters have been shopping. They've taken a good look at the others, and there have been a lot of surprises," she said.
"I've been the consistent conservative who can deliver. They will come back home. People have flirted with the Texas governor and with Herman Cain. Now they're going to go with the one who hasn't surprised them."
And in a reference to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, the party's flip-flopping front-runners, the founder of the House Tea Party Caucus declared: "You won't find any video clips of me being on both sides of an issue." Bachmann's campaign has launched a website -- nosurprises2012.com -- to highlight those differences.
Bachmann's long-range strategy, as outlined in her new book, "Core of Courage," is to win what Democratic pollster Pat Caddell labels the "radical middle."
That group -- which she describes as "disaffected Democrats, independents, libertarians and those who would reject any political label" -- holds the key to the White House next November, Bachmann believes.
Though a staunch fiscal and social conservative, the three-term congresswoman said she has reached across partisan lines to build consensus on issues ranging from education reform to Obamacare.
"I delivered that [radical middle] group before, when I spoke out about dumbed-down political correctness passing for education in Minnesota. I told that story across the state, and made the issue nonpartisan.
"We got Democrats, independents and conservatives to get behindeducation reform. It was a historic victory to repeal Goals 2000.
"On the national level, I got 40,000 people to Washington, D.C., to rally against Obamacare," said Bachmann, who was the first in Congress to introduce a bill to repeal the controversial health-care law.
A nationally televised debate on Tuesday night will give Bachmann a stage to showcase her hard-line stand on national security.
The most vocal defender of Israel in the GOP field, the unabashed "Christian conservative" said the Jewish nation faces destruction at the hands of "23 hostile neighbors."
"We're looking at the rise of radical Islam, potentially with the nukes to wipe out Israel. If they wipe Israel off the map, we can't think we will escape that wrath. We must have the moral clarity to call out evil," said the member of the House Intelligence Committee.
In the past week, Bachmann has called on her fellow Republicans to "man up" on security issues, while criticizing President Obama for involving U.S. forces in unclear missions in Libya and Uganda.
As for the GOP nomination battle, Bachmann acknowledged she was conflicted about how best to compete in Florida this summer.
Coming off thestraw poll victory in her native Iowa, Bachmann took a four-day bus tour through Florida, but did not stay to compete at the Republican Party's Presidency 5 straw poll in September. She finished last.
"We were conflicted. Based on the response we received on our bus tour -- including 1,500 people turning out in Sarasota -- we felt we had a really strong following rising up in Florida.
"But it was a question of where to devote resources. It would take a tremendous investment in Florida, and we didn't have time to cultivate P5 relationships. We didn't know that pool. We didn't know it would be a good use of resources.
"In retrospect, you just don't know. We made the best decision we could at the time," she said.
Going forward, Bachmann vowed, "We don't discount Florida at all. We intend to come down and win the primary and the general election."
Bachmann, like other GOP hopefuls, visited with part-time Palm Beach resident Donald Trump in New York on Monday.
She didn't come away with an endorsement, nor did she necessarily seek one, but the congresswoman said they had a friendly and constructive conversation.
"We really like each other," she related.
Contact Kenric Ward at email@example.com or (772) 801-5341.