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Bachmann ends GOP presidential bid

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:15 PM EST, Wed January 4, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Michele Bachmann ends her presidential campaign
  • Bachmann finished sixth in the Iowa caucuses
  • Bachmann is known as a leading tea party conservative in the House of Representatives

(CNN) -- Michele Bachmann ended her bid for the Republican presidential nomination Wednesday, hours after a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

The Minnesota congresswoman suspended her campaign, a legal technicality that will allow her to continue to raise and spend campaign funds.

"Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice and so I have decided to stand aside," Bachmann told a crowd of supporters in West Des Moines. But, she added, "I will continue fighting to defeat the president's agenda of socialism."

"It is safe to say we don't see a viable way forward," a Republican source familiar with Bachmann's campaign told CNN before the announcement.

Bachmann's withdrawal is a blow to many die-hard tea party conservatives. The congresswoman, a leading populist conservative in the House of Representatives, has often led the GOP's rhetorical charge against President Barack Obama's agenda.

Critics, however, have often accused her of playing loose with facts and making irresponsible accusations.

When swine flu broke out in 2009, Bachmann implied that it was the Democrats' fault, saying, "I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under Democrat President Jimmy Carter."

In fact, the 1970s outbreak came during the administration of Republican President Gerald Ford.

She also perpetuated the falsehood that Obama's 2010 trip to India cost $200 million a day -- an inaccurate figure that came from an anonymous source at a news organization in India.

In 2008, she attacked Obama for possibly having "anti-American views." She also called on the media to investigate anyone in Congress who may also be "anti-American" -- prompting accusations of a new McCarthyism.

But except for few blunders along the trail, she usually stayed on message and turned in some forceful debate performances.

Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, are born-again Christians. It was God, she has said, who encouraged her to run for higher office. A social conservative agenda -- one that included unwavering support for an anti-same-sex marriage amendment in Minnesota -- defined Bachmann's six years in her state legislature.

Few gave her a chance to unseat a moderate Republican incumbent when she first ran for the state legislature in 2000. She won, however, largely because of her organizational skill, building a base of support through the churches and conservative organizations in her district.

Bachmann and her husband have raised five children and 23 foster kids. She placed the foster children in public school and, unhappy with what they were learning, ultimately ran for school board. It was her first attempt at political office and, though she lost, it ignited a passion for politics.

Bachmann was born in Waterloo, Iowa, the site where she launched her presidential campaign.

CNN's Alan Silverleib, Dana Bash, John King, and Chris Welch contributed to this report

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