BACHMANN IN IOWA…. Once in a while, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann received strong reviews from some top Iowa Republicans tonight but left them guessing about her intentions for the 2012 presidential race. […]

“I’m impressed,” declared Gov. Terry Branstad, after Bachmann’s speech to about 250 people at an Iowans for Tax Relief fundraiser. He said he doesn’t know whether she’ll run for president, “but she’ll certainly have an influence on the debate.” Branstad hasn’t ruled out endorsing a candidate before the caucuses.

Steve Scheffler, a Republican National Committee member from Iowa and head of the conservative Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, also liked what he saw from Bachmann.

He said he has no idea whether she’ll run for president. “She’s definitely testing the waters and I think she could take a serious look at it,” Scheffler said. “She certainly would bring a lot of enthusiasm to the base.”

Tea Partier Dave Funk, a failed congressional candidate, said Bachmann’s focus on “American exceptionalism” sets her apart from “old guard” candidates like Newt Gingrich or Mike Huckabee. “It was almost like ‘a new day in America’ speech, like Reagan,” Funk said. “Everybody else is talking policy, issues, ideas — she’s talking about motivating the people to get out and do something.”

I still find it very hard to believe that Bachmann, arguably Congress’ single most ridiculous member, would seriously consider a national campaign. As detached from reality as she appears, even Bachmann must realize her odds of getting elected President of the United States are about as good as mine.

So why bother with all of this? I suspect Bachmann will go through the motions, toying with the idea, as part of an elaborate exercise in vanity — she’ll enjoy the attention, the platform, and the visibility, before announcing her intentions to seek re-election to the House.

For Democrats, there are a couple of angles to this. The good news is, if Bachmann does launch a national campaign, she’ll give party leaders, who wish she’d just go away, plenty of indigestion. The bad news is, if she goes through with this, Bachmann would likely make other GOP candidates look moderate and sensible by comparison.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.