Is Bachmann Playing the Gender Card?

Counting on a strong finish in Iowa, the Associated Press reports that Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is increasingly stressing her gender as a distinction in the crowded Republican presidential field.

“She’s made the gender card central to her closing argument. She’s urging voters to embrace the idea of a ‘strong woman in the White House’ and is molding herself as ‘America’s Iron Lady’ in the vein of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.”

Iowa has never elected a woman as governor or to its congressional delegation, and some have speculated that her closing strategy may cost her some conservatives who have more traditional views about gender roles.

Bachmann rarely drew attention to her gender early in the campaign, but AP notes she’s been hitting the theme hard as Tuesday’s caucuses near.

“I’m an Iowa girl. And one thing I remember about Iowa is we are a state of strong women,” Bachmann told the lunch crowd at a 50s-themed burger joint in Mount Ayr. “We need a strong woman to turn this country around, right?”

Bachmann was born in Iowa, and rose to prominence in the Republican presidential primary campaign after winning the state’s Ames straw poll over the summer, in turn ending the campaign of former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. The Minnesota congresswoman’s presidential campaign has lost some steam in the state since then, finishing sixth with only 7 percent support in the final Des Moines Register poll before the January 3 Iowa Caucus released Saturday.

Bachmann spoke from the pulpit of Jubilee Family Church in Oskaloosa, Iowa Sunday morning, where the Los Angeles Times reports she preached for half an hour not on politics, but her own personal story of salvation. On the sidewalk outside the church following the service, Bachmann said she was not worried about evangelical voters deserting her for outspoken social conservative and surging former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

The New York Times notes that Bachmann has said she expects “astounding results” that are nothing short of miraculous in Tuesday’s caucuses. The Times reports that outside the church the Minnesota congresswoman stressed that she would continue to fight for “faith, marriage and the protection of life from conception to natural death” because “it matters what’s true. It matters what’s right.”