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Rep. Michele Bachmann won't seek fifth term

BY BRIAN BAKST AND KEN THOMAS

The Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman whose sharply conservative views elevated her to a leader of the tea party movement, announced yesterday that she will not seek a fifth term but insisted the decision was unrelated to ethics inquiries or her near-loss last fall.

She left the door open to other, unspecified political options. "There is no future option or opportunity, be it directly in the political arena or otherwise, that I won't be giving serious consideration if it can help save and protect our great nation," she said in a video.

Bachmann was in Russia as part of a congressional delegation and was not available for interviews. In her video message to supporters, she said her decision "was not influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected."

Ron Carey, a former chief of staff to Bachmann, said he suspects she was anticipating a tough battle ahead and seemed to be stuck in place in Congress.

"This is a great chance to exit stage right rather than have a knockdown, drag-out re-election fight," Carey said. "The reality also set in that she is not a favorite of Republican leadership, so she is not going to be rising up to a committee chair or rising up in leadership."

Bachmann also said her decision "was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign" last year.

In January, a former Bachmann aide filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming the candidate made improper payments to an Iowa state senator who was the state chairman of her 2012 presidential run. The aide, Peter Waldron, also accused Bachmann of other FEC violations.

Elected in 2006, Bachmann attacked Democrats and President Barack Obama for government bailouts and the health care overhaul. But her penchant for provocative rhetoric sometimes backfired. She was hammered in 2008 for saying Obama might have "anti-American views," a statement that prompted a rare retreat by Bachmann.

She was also criticized by her fellow Republicans last July for making unsubstantiated allegations that Huma Abedin, an aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, had family ties to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

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