The video: On Monday morning, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) formally declared her candidacy for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination in her hometown, Waterloo, Iowa. Bachmann stressed her ties to the crucial early caucus state by touting her "Iowa values" as a constitutional conservative and devout Christian. (See the video below.) "Everything I need to know, I learned in Iowa," she said. Bachmann lived in Waterloo until she was 12, when her family moved to Minnesota. The Tea Party favorite, 55, said that during her childhood, people in Waterloo had more optimism and less debt. "But our government keeps getting bigger, making it tougher for us to pass on that life." Bachmann also scoffed at the conventional wisdom that the Tea Party movement is limited to conservatives, saying it includes independents and disaffected Democrats as well. "We're people who simply want America back on the right track again," she said.

The reaction: For Bachmann, this wasn't about announcing (or legitimizing) her candidacy, says Lindsey Boerma at National Journal. She took care of that during this month's debate in New Hampshire. This speech was about "driving deeper into the ground her stake in being a native Iowan," and she certainly succeeded on that score. Those Iowa roots aren't the only thing Bachmann has over her rivals, says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. According to a new poll that shows her in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses, she also has momentum. Bachmann's family ties to Iowa are "fortuitous," says Republican strategist Curt Anderson, as quoted by CNN, but "...she has to win Iowa... without it her campaign is over." Watch Bachmann's formal campaign announcement: