Forget for the moment Texas governor Rick Perry, who has yet to win anything outside of his home state of Texas. Michele Bachmann's win in the Ames, Iowa straw poll, coupled with Tim Pawlenty's withdrawal from the race, is further evidence, I believe, that Bachmann is the GOP frontrunner for the 2012 presidential nomination.The question for her Republican rivals is: how can she be stopped?
Not easily, that's for sure. The truth is that Bachmann is an excellent candidate. Quick, poised, and articulate; sharp, cogent, and persuasive, she inspires confidence and respect.
For example, as Tim Mak reports, the most talked about moment in the Ames debate was when Byron York asked Bachmann whether, as president, she would be submissive to her husband. (This because Bachmann once said she decided to study tax law at her husband's urging because the Bible commands wives to be "submissive" to their husbands.)
Bachmann's answer, notes Jennifer Rubin,
was a home run, not only in substance, but in delivery. First was the dramatic pause. Then the smile -- no offense taken -- and then the conservative feminist grand slam.
First, Bachmann thanked York for asking the question. Then she responded:
Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th. I'm in love with him. I'm so proud of him. And both he and I -- what submission means to us (if that's what your question is) -- it means respect.
I respect my husband. He's a wonderful, godly man and a great father. And he respects me as his wife. That's how we operate our marriage. We respect each other. We love each other.
This was, as the political pros like to say, a "defining moment" for Bachmann. It showed, in the words of veteran political analyst Charlie Cook, that Bachmann can "play at this level," the national level. She can hang with the big boys and hook and jab with the heavyweight candidates such as Perry and Mitt Romney.
Sure, Newsweek can try and caricature Bachmann as an enraged right-wing crazy, but voters who have met Bachmann know better. They know that she's relaxed, grounded and comfortable in her own skin.
Voters like and appreciate Bachmann's message of hope and promise -- the promise that Obama can be defeated, his legislation (and especially ObamaCare) overturned, and the country set on a new and more conservative path forward.
All of which is to say that Romney and Perry have their work cut out for them.