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Those Who Mock Michele Bachmann Should Pay Attention to Her Recent Debating Performances

Perhaps Bachmann's greatest strength displayed during these televised debates is an ability to keep her opponents on the defensive with an adversarial manner that none of the other candidates seem quite capable of.
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Few could deny that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is an extraordinary person. Coming from a modest single parent background, she put herself through law school, raised five children and 23 foster children, before abruptly bursting into the forefront of America's political scene in just a few short years. Pollsters place Bachmann as an outsider in the Republican leadership nomination but opponents should be wary; Bachmann has only ever lost one election in her life and that was for a local school board. Her ability to beat tried and tested candidates with far more experience than her has been remarkable.

Back in July, The Weekly Standard put Bachmann on its cover and ran a glowing feature on her that insisted she was a serious candidate. Having gone on to win the Iowa straw poll back in August, Bachmann now finds herself lagging in the polls, down with the once rather more promising-looking Rick Perry. Republicans are nervous about the electability of a conservative. Yet as we saw with the rapid and dramatic rise and fall in the fortunes of Herman Cain, things can change suddenly in this race and as The Telegraph's Tim Stanley has predicted, in Iowa we may see a last minute boost for the overtly religious candidates, which of course includes Bachmann.

For those who would have us dismiss Michele Bachmann as not being a serious politician, a kind of Sarah Palin mark two, they would do well to pay attention to Bachmann's performances in the recent televised debates. She has proven to be not simply an incredibly eloquent debater and sharp thinker, but has also appeared bright and fresh-faced alongside some rather grey and tired looking, not to mention unimaginative, older men.

In the earlier debates Bachmann was doing a great deal to present herself as not only the candidate that could consolidate the supporters of small government in the Tea Party, but also as the consistently socially conservative candidate. She stressed her impeccable record when it came to being pro-life as well as for protecting core values on marriage. Indeed, this is something Bachmann has remained resolutely committed to despite a ferocious hate campaign against her that has seen two gay rights activists accost her in the ladies' bathroom, while threats from campaigners forced Bachmann to request security protection and to have her family's home address removed from the state senate directory.

In the latest debate, however, Bachmann has appeared more eager to be seen as a candidate with broader appeal. She pointed to her record in Minnesota where she had had to win over both independents and Democrat voters to take her seat. She has also gone to great lengths to place herself and her worldview in with the Constitution and the values of America's founders.

Perhaps Bachmann's greatest strength displayed during these televised debates is an ability to keep her opponents on the defensive with an adversarial manner that none of the other candidates seem quite capable of. She effortlessly succeeded in making Ron Paul look ridiculous for the views he holds on Iran and brutally exposed his policies as "dangerous." Paul was left spluttering -- "She took my time!" -- but when he resorted to accusing her of getting her facts wrong, he only succeeded in appearing desperate.

Newt Gingrich also attempted to play the "Congresswoman Bachmann has her facts wrong" card when she got him on the run -- both over the dubious donations he has received from Freddie Mac as well as on his record on what the congresswoman called "the barbaric procedure of what is known as partial birth abortion." When Gingrich yet again claimed that Bachmann was making "wild accusations," she fought for her right to speak and hit back calling his remarks "outrageous" and defended her corner uncompromisingly. Now isn't that the kind of roasting Republicans would like to see Obama receive?

Even if Bachmann doesn't get to head the GOP this time around, one can at least hope she receives a senior position in a future Republican administration. And if ever Americans decide they do want a president who combines the unwavering determination of Thatcher with the sunny disposition of Reagan and the staunch moral clarity of both, well then they have it in Michele Bachmann.

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