Ready For a Run: Waterloo Prepares For Bachmann Announcement

By Chris Earl, Reporter

WATERLOO, Iowa – Michele Bachmann's campaign staff may have known for weeks when the Minnesota Congresswoman would make a formal announcement to run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Yet the places now picked to host Bachmann's announcement in Waterloo are working to be ready.

The Snowden House, part of the Grout Museum District in downtown Waterloo, will be the setting for a Monday morning event at 9 a.m., where Bachmann is expected to announce she is running for president.

"They called us (Wednesday) morning and asked, 'What are you doing on Sunday or Monday?'," said Rachel Fritts, rental coordinator with the Grout Museum District. "I said, 'We're open to book'."

Fritts said Bachmann's announcement would likely come on the front steps of the Snowden House property, facing downtown Waterloo.

"We are trying to keep it as normal as possible," said Fritts, when asked about the preparations for a presidential campaign announcement of this magnitude.

Bachmann was born in Waterloo and spent much of her childhood in the area. The night before the Monday announcement, Bachmann will return to a landmark long known for events and celebrations in the city.

"I found out about 6:30 (Wednesday) night and some people have been mulling around here and taking about a possible future event," said Larry Gaffey, general manager of the National Cattle Congress. Bachmann is scheduled to attend a "welcome home" event on Sunday night at 5:30 at the 105-year-old Electric Park Ballroom.

Gaffey described the Sunday event as a "very casual event".

"She will come in, say a few words and shake hands with people she hasn't seen in a long time," said Gaffey. "She's a Waterloo girl and it's neat that she is coming in here for this."

Gaffey also said her family has some history with the ballroom.

"Her parents did have some ballroom dancing lessons here."

Captain Tim Pillack, of the Waterloo Police Department, said the police will work with neighboring law enforcement agencies, such as Cedar Falls Police and the Black Hawk Sheriff's Office, to ensure a safe atmosphere. He referenced the visit from then-president George W. Bush and how the agencies had to work together for that visit.

"It is a tremendous undertaking when you have somebody that famous or needs security coming to your town," said Pillack.

Just last month, the law enforcement presence was felt in neighboring Cedar Falls for First Lady Michelle Obama's visit at the University of Northern Iowa.

This will mark the second straight presidential primary season where a candidate formally announces he or she will enter the race from Eastern Iowa. In November 2006, former governor Tom Vilsack stood in his native Mount Pleasant to announce his pursuit of the 2008 Democratic nomination.
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