Michele Bachmann 2012: Republican Presidential Candidate

Other critical stories about her appeared in Rolling Stone and the New Yorker. In late August, days after Hurricane Irene had ravaged the East Coast, leaving more than 30 people dead, Bachmann joked at a Florida event that the storm was God's attempt to get Washington politicians to cut back on spending.

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians," she said. "We've had an earthquake. We've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now."

In addition, Bachmann has had to respond to a barrage of criticism. Now in her third term in Congress, she has never sponsored a bill or resolution that has become law, causing her former rival, ex-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who later dropped out of the presidential race after Ames, to denounce her congressional record as "non-existent."

She and her husband have faced repeated questions about their views on homosexuality, not only because of his clinic but also because she once characterized it as "personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement."

And when she was a state senator, she put a biography of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on "Michele's Must-Read List" on her official website. In the book, author Steven Wilkins wrote, "Slavery, as it operated in the pervasively Christian society which was the old South, was not an adversarial relationship founded on racial animosity. In fact, it bred on the whole, not contempt, but over time, mutual respect."

Even her victory in the straw poll quickly lost some of its luster. For starters, Bachmann that day barely managed to beat Rep. Ron Paul, a libertarian from Texas seen as having little shot of winning the GOP nomination.

Making matters worse, on that same Saturday in August, another Texan -- Perry -- officially entered the presidential race, stealing not only much of the spotlight from Bachmann but a great deal of support, too. Perry quickly shot to the top of national polls, emerging as the Republican front-runner and sending Bachmann plummeting down to the fringes of the top three, if not outside it altogether.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that Bachmann's support had been cut in half in the past few months, down to 8 percent from 16 percent. In early September, even Bachmann's outgoing campaign manager, Ed Rollins, acknowledged that it was a two-man race.

Can Bachmann come from behind to beat Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney? If she is to do so, she will have to expand her Tea Party base, convince the GOP establishment that she can overcome electability questions and defeat Obama in the general election, and put to rest the concerns about her past comments, as well as her more recent ones.

Those are a lot of "ifs," but count her out at your own peril. The 55-year old native of Waterloo, Iowa, enjoys strong support in the Hawkeye State, site of the country's first caucuses. If she manages to get off to a good start, then consider this: She has never lost an election for state or federal office.

Ultimately, win or lose, you can count on Bachmann to get people talking. That much, it is clear, is guaranteed.

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