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GOP Debate: Michele Bachmann and Six Guys

By       Message John Nichols       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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From The Nation

Say what you will about Michele Bachmann, but don't deny that she is the most theatrically skilled Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan.

During a debate that did nothing to discourage the prospective campaigns of Republicans who were not on the stage -- former Utah Governor John Huntsman, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and, above all, Texas Governor Rick Perry -- Bachmann was the one candidate who made news.

At the opening of the second Republican presidential debate Monday night, Bachmann took an unprecedented step: she announced that she had formally entered the race for the GOP nomination -- a move that just a few months ago was unimaginable to almost anyone but the congresswoman from Minnesota.

Yes, it was a little bizarre. Most candidates get the family together, call in a crowd of supporters and deliver a rip-roaring address that scopes out a vision for the country. Bachmann says she's jumping through those hoops "soon."

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But rather than wait, Bachmann just told John King that she was ready to make the race.

It was a stunt.

But there's a reason why politicians -- especially politicians mounting uphill runs -- pull stunts.

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They grab attention, make voters take a second look and jump-start a campaign.

That's what Bachmann was doing, with her start-of-the-debate announcement and every answer she gave on a night that saw the men who would be president struggle to excite a friendly crowd.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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