Tea Party darling and weirdly successful 2012 presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is stepping back into the political spotlight this week as a member of Donald Trump's new Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. The 21-person team, which also includes the president of Liberty College, Jerry Falwell Jr., will consult with Trump on the American faithful, in an effort to pull evangelicals into the Trump camp. The religious right largely supported Ted Cruz in the early primaries, and Bachmann's own home state of Minnesota went to Marco Rubio during the state's primary in March. Recent polling data indicates that over half of all evangelical voters would choose a third-party candidate before they voted for Trump, so clearly, there's a lot of work to be done before Trump has the evangelical base solidly on his side.
Both Bachmann and Trump are unlikely candidates who struck a nerve with the American people, but that's pretty much where the resemblance between the two stops. Bachmann and Trump agree broadly on some of the big issues, such as abortion and gun control, yet have very dissimilar stances on many other topics, including gay rights and drug legalization.
Depending on how much sway this advisory board holds over Trump, a big time policy shift towards a more religious-based campaign might be coming in order to capture that evangelical vote in the fall, but Trump's campaign has to be especially careful not to alienate other less religious voters. That will be a tough line to walk, especially as Trump is in the midst of personnel and financial woes that are putting him at a serious disadvantage against Hillary Clinton already.
The high profile hire means that Bachmann would likely have a place in a potential Trump administration. Bachmann served in the House of Representatives for four terms before leaving in 2015, and her political career has briefly stalled since. Even with the ideological differences, it's no real surprise that Bachmann's next move after Congress was a step towards the Executive Branch, and it's a nearly perfect partnership since Bachmann became the poster girl for evangelicals in the 2012 campaign and Trump rapidly needs to reverse his image with that demographic.
If Bachmann can pull it off and get Trump elected with the support of the evangelical base, she could completely turn around her political career and position herself for a shot at the top office in a few years. (Ryan/Bachmann 2020?)
The evangelical base is always a hot button demographic for a presidential campaign, and Trump needs as much support as he can get to recover from his currently abysmal polling numbers. Bachmann and the new Evangelical Executive Advisory Board may prove an asset or a liability, but the obvious movement forward in the campaign is an interesting tact to say the least. As Trump and his team prepare for the general election, the attempts to attract new voters and keep the old ones could prove an insurmountable obstacle for the divisive candidate.