"I just want to make an announcement here for you, John, on CNN tonight," she said. "I filed today my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States today, and I'll very soon be making my formal announcement."
The declaration was received with booming applause, which pretty much set the tone for the night. Throughout the debate, a polished, clearly well-prepared Bachmann appeared to consistently impress the audience and political pundits.[jump]
We had thought everyone pretty much knew her by now, but analysts were calling the debate Bachmann's introduction to the country. And she nailed it. An instant CNN poll gave Bachmann second place, losing only to Mitt Romney.
Bachmann earned her second round of applause when asked about whether the Tea Party alienates less extreme Republicans.
She asserted that the Tea Party wasn't actually so extreme, but merely a group of disenchanted Democrats, independents, and non-political types who "simply want to take the country back."
Bachmann's definition doesn't exactly jive with the statistics. A 2010 poll found that most Tea Partiers are in fact rich, white males who share a similar "very conservative" ideology. Nonetheless, it was good enough fodder to spin into a jab at Obama.
"We need everyone to come together, because we're going to win," Bachmann declared. "Make no mistake about it. I'm going to announce tonight: President Obama is a one-term president!"
Not a bad way to win over the audience of a Republican debate.
During the second half of the evening, Bachmann made a little less noise, but stayed on key. One question that likely resonated with Minnesota voters was whether she would try to overturn same-sex marriage laws in New Hampshire.
Bachmann said--unsurprisingly--she believed that marriage was the bond between a man and a woman. But she followed by tactfully explaining she doesn't think the role of a president is to interfere with state law. This earned her yet another hardy round of applause.
A few minutes later, she hedged slightly, adding she did support the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
All told, Bachmann managed to avoid the oft-extreme rhetoric that has contributed to her celebrity. Let's see if she can keep it up.
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