Late Vote Keeps Bachmann from Iowa Dinner

DES MOINES -- An aide to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann says she will be unable to attend a Republican dinner in Iowa Thursday night, due to a last minute vote in the House authorizing an extension of the PATRIOT Act. Instead, Bachmann will record a video and Skype with attendees at the Polk County GOP dinner.

Bachmann's change of plans will inevitably disappoint Republican caucus goers who had hoped to meet her and hear her speak. Already some are speculating that the plans announced by Sarah Palin to launch an East Coast bus tour over Memorial Day, first reported by Fox News, may be causing Bachmann to rethink her own presidential hopes.

Palin has not made a decision whether or not to run, but her hastily arranged tour has increased speculation that she is preparing to jump in. Palin aides began assembling a shadow campaign several weeks ago in case she does decide to run. Bachmann has been lighting up crowds and aggressively trying to raise money, but her online fundraising "money bomb" Wednesday fell short of the $250,000 she had hoped to raise.

Aides to the three-term congresswoman told reporters after Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race that Bachmann is "very likely to run" and would accelerate plans to announce her candidacy. Instead of waiting until June, insiders said she would announce as soon as Thursday night in Des Moines. But Bachmann walked that back earlier this week, saying her June timetable remains intact.