Bachmann shoring up local base, but speculation of Senate run persists

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One political analyst says Michele Bachmann's public demeanor is dramatically different. Another cites a dramatic change in her political perspective. And the Congresswoman herself says she's making a point of listening to her Minnesota constituents.

The consensus among pundits is that her narrow re-election last fall has prompted Bachmann to lower her national profile and focus more on Minnesota's Sixth District. It's a far cry from a year ago, when Bachmann spent much of March in Iowa campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.

Carleton College professor Steven Schier tells MPR Bachmann is working to repair local damage done by paying so much attention to national politics. The University of Minnesota's Larry Jacobs tells the St. Cloud Times that backing away from a role as the lead firebrand for conservatives is Bachmann's best response to the threat posed by last fall's Democratic challenger, Jim Graves, who is considering running again next year.

As for what race she'll run next year, Bachmann is not saying. While some analysts are convinced she's focused on holding onto her House seat, there's persistent speculation that she'll challenge U.S. Senator Al Franken.

Bachmann says right now her priority is 2013 and helping Minnesotans with issues such as transportation. She appeared with fellow Republicans at the state Capitol to promote a push for money to expand highways in central Minnesota.

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