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Michelle Bachmann
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Up until recently, someone who mentioned the words “woman” and “presidential candidate” in the same breath probably would have been met with the response, “Sarah Palin.”  But now, with Palin’s star fading -- at least politically -- and with nobody having stepped forward to commandeer the frontrunner’s role in the Republican field, Minnesota Congressman Michelle Bachmann is assuming a front-and-center position as a viable candidate to take the GOP nomination. Whether her early poll results will result in another shooting-star phenomenon is yet to be told, but Bachmann is proving herself a more adept campaigner than Palin was.

Bachman distinguished herself a couple weeks ago during a debate of GOP presidential hopefuls, demonstrating a firm grasp of the issues and a stage presence that set her apart from some of her rivals for the White House. As opposed to Palin, whose first forays into politicking a couple years ago on a national stage turned sour, Bachmann enhanced her stature, and in Iowa, whose caucuses play a disproportionate role in presidential politics, she’s running neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney in public opinion polls.

Bachmann’s fiscal philosophy mirrors that of Tea Party activists, and it will be interesting to see as the campaign moves forward whether she’ll be viewed as a fringe candidate by many. Television commentator Chris Wallace apologized after asking her if she was a flake, yet there are many fiscal conservatives who still haven’t completely subscribed to the Tea Party philosophy. How well she appeals to those people might determine her fate.

Bachmann holds a post-doctoral degree in federal tax law from William and Mary, a distinguished institution. People aren’t questioning her intellectual credentials as many did Palin’s. She’s attractive, articulate and determined, and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the terms “woman” and “presidential candidate” might become “woman” and “presidential nominee.”