Rep. Michele Bachmann plans to participate in a presidential debate in New Hampshire this month, a move that further signals the Minnesota Republican expects to be a candidate for the 2012 nomination.
Bachmann will be on stage for the June 13 debate in Manchester, N.H., sponsored by WMUR and CNN, a Bachmann adviser, Andy Parrish, told The Associated Press.
Bachmann has said she will announce her plans this month in Iowa, the state that hosts the leadoff nominating caucuses. She has been laying campaign groundwork in Iowa by hiring senior political staff and scouting campaign office space. She also has traveled to New Hampshire and South Carolina, states scheduled to hold the first two primary elections.
Bachmann has traveled to Iowa four times this year and met with Gov. Terry Branstad, other GOP officials and influential Republican activists such as pastors and home-school advocates. Freshman state Sen. Kent Sorenson is advising Bachmann and is expected to run her caucus campaign.
In another telling sign, Parrish stepped down as Bachmann's congressional chief of staff this week for what he described in an email to staff as "an exciting new position with the congresswoman."
"I'm focusing more now on political things," Parrish told the AP.
Parrish has been a political adviser to Bachmann since 2005, in the early stages of her 2006 election to Congress from the suburban Twin Cities district she represents. But Parrish and Bachmann go back further, to her time in the Minnesota Senate when Parrish was a Republican legislative aide.
Bachmann is among seven Republicans expected to participate in the debate in the leadoff presidential primary state. The others, according to WMUR, are former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
CNN and WMUR plan to announce the debate lineup Friday.
Bachmann appeared to be eying the latter part of June for an announcement in Waterloo, Iowa. She has said she intends to wait until after her youngest child graduates from high school this weekend.