Feature

Bachmann: Why she’s got a real shot

With $13.6 million in campaign funds, Michele Bachmann is a serious contender for the Repubilcan candidacy, and she is favored over Mitt Romney by those who prefer stronger medicine.

Liberals and the media had better stop laughing, said David Weigel in GQ. Michele Bachmann, the evangelical Christian Minnesota congresswoman who recently declared her candidacy for president, has a real shot to become the Republican nominee. The Republican establishment may not like her, but she’s “whip smart,” has made a visceral connection to the Tea Party and the social conservative base, and could easily win early primaries in Iowa and South Carolina. Bachmann, a sharp-spoken, 5-foot-2 dynamo, has injected some real electricity into a lackluster Republican field, said Thomas Fitzgerald in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Conservatives love that she calls global warming “a hoax,” has assailed President Obama’s “anti-American views,” and has even attacked the government’s insistence that consumers buy new, energy-efficient lightbulbs. With Republican front-runner Mitt Romney leading by default, Bachmann may become the “anti-Mitt” for those who prefer stronger medicine.

Liberals aren’t laughing—they’re terrified, said John Cassidy in NewYorker.com. Bachmann is an extremist, Bible-thumping crusader against the “gay lifestyle,” abortion, and taxes. Her husband runs a Christian counseling center that tries to turn gays straight through therapy. Worst of all, she can’t be dismissed, because she’s an attractive woman with a compelling story and a dynamic public speaker, and, as of last week, she’s running dead even with Romney in Iowa and gaining in New Hampshire. With $13.6 million in campaign funds, Bachmann is “a serious threat—to the other Republican candidates, to the Democrats, and to the country.” She’s also a phony and a hypocrite, said Timothy Egan in The New York Times. While publicly condemning “socialism” and government spending, Bachmann and her family have collected $251,000 in farm subsidies over 14 years. Her husband’s clinic has collected Medicaid payments of $137,000 since 2005.

Yes, she does have flaws as a candidate, said Robert Costa in National Review. But when she has to perform, Bachmann “burns the midnight oil,” studying policy and learning from past mistakes. That’s why, in the first Republican debate, she surprised everyone by sounding so poised and well prepared. Moderate Republicans like me still find her too extreme, said Mark McKinnon in TheDailyBeast.com. But “she is a rock star with the Tea Party set,’’ and if you see how Republican audiences respond to her, you can’t write her off. “She’s gonna be a playah.”

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