ST. PAUL, Minn. — For Michele Bachmann, the laugh line doubled as a clear message that she thinks she’s ready for the rough-and-tumble of presidential politics.
“I had three brothers, no sisters – the best preparation for politics any girl could ever have,” the tea party favorite and three-term Minnesota congresswoman told a crowd in Waterloo, Iowa, on the eve of her campaign kickoff.
So far, however, Bachmann’s current opponents – all men – are treading lightly, seemingly sensitive both to offending her tea party supporters and to gender concerns.
She’s risen in polls in the lead-off caucus state of Iowa and elsewhere since entering the race last month. Surveys show her challenging the front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, in Iowa, and well ahead of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
It’s clear that she’s becoming a threat and that her rivals aren’t sure how to derail her without risking a backlash.
Take Pawlenty, who’s suddenly in her shadow.
When one of Pawlenty’s advisers mentioned Bachmann’s “sex appeal” as a political asset, his campaign rushed out an apology and the candidate distanced himself from a remark that some interpreted as sexist.
“It’s not an appropriate criteria for evaluating a candidate,” Pawlenty said.
Last week, he told The Associated Press while campaigning in Iowa that he had no immediate plans to criticize Bachmann as he has Romney.
‘It is disingenuous to accuse everyone who calls for restructuring as trying to break up the county. History tells us that that kind of cheap blackmail will not work as long as the underlying reasons for the agitations persist.’
‘The biggest challenge seems to be that we seem to be allowing moderate voices on this issue to be drowned out by the reckless utterances of a few rabble rousers on all sides who may be tools in the hands of those who do not wish this country well. These are some of the people who arrogate to themselves the toga of spokespersons of our diverse groups.’
-Ex VP Atiku Abubakar on Restructuring.
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