TAMPA, Florida—Rep. Michele Bachmann, who dropped out of the Republican presidential race the day after her loss in the Iowa Caucuses, has become a key target of Mitt Romney's campaign to unify Republicans behind him.
The Minnesota Congresswoman provided Romney useful cover during debates, attacking rivals like Rick Perry from their right flank -- here's a video roundup of those attacks -- and generally avoided skirmishes with the frontrunner. The reason: She told aides she wanted to preserve her shot at the Vice Presidential nomination.
A social conservative who spoke to Bachmann Monday said she was "close" -- but not quite ready to endorse Romney. A former Bachmann aide speculated that his trip to Minnesota could seal the deal. The Boston Globe reported this morning that "negotiations" with Bachmann were underway last night.
Bachmann's campaign is also about $90,000 in debt, and latching onto Romney is a quick way to pay it down. After backing Romney, former candidate Tim Pawlenty received financial assistance from many of Romney's former colleagues at Bain Capital.
Romney is currently scheduled to hold an event at 2:05 central time in Eagan, Minnesota.
UPDATE: 10:28 A.M.: An endorsement "is not happening," emails Bachmann aide Guy Short. "Mrs. Bachmann will be putting out a statement responding to these rumors shortly."
Says Bachmann in the statement:
Let me be absolutely clear -- there are absolutely no negotiations between me and the Romney campaign regarding any pending endorsement of Governor Romney. I continue to speak with all the candidates and plan on uniting behind the presumptive nominee. The Boston Globe article today is completely false and I call on the Globe to retract their article.