It’s hard to believe the next presidential election is still almost 16 months away. If you were Michelle Bachmann’s advisor, what strategy would you propose she take to sustain her momentum and end up as the Republican standard bearer? (Ouch, I have a headache…)
Arena Asks: Michele Bachmann was named the winner of the Iowa straw poll tonight, taking 4,823 votes out of nearly 17,000 cast. Ron Paul was a close runner-up, taking 4,671 votes. In a distant third place was former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who took 2,293 votes after investing heavily in the event. What does this victory say about Bachmann’s future in the presidential race? And is this the end of the line for Tim Pawlenty?
My Answer: Pawlenty’s third place was actually better than his numbers would have predicted going in, so he’s lived to fight at least one more day. Cain, Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich can go home now.
That Bachmann and Paul, the two wackiest of the major candidates, together scooped up over 56% of the vote ought to be enough to send chills down the spines of every Democrat and Independent, along with a few moderate Republicans–and joy into the Obama and Romney camps.
Perry’s entry timing was masterfully orchestrated. It drew the glow off Bachmann’s victory. I grew up the buckle of the Texas Bible Belt and I see three big problems for Bachmann with Perry in the race. First, do not underestimate that Texas good ol’ boy charm and the arrogant sense of entitlement that underlies it. Second, Perry will play very dirty with an engaging smile on his face and an unctuous prayer on his lips masking his two-step like the politician in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” And third, given a choice between a male and a female candidate from their own ranks, the fundamentalist (and fundamentally patriarchal) Christian base will choose the man. Perry will flank Bachmann on the right within a few weeks.
Meanwhile, though, it’s Bachmann’s moment, and much will depend on her ability to sustain her momentum given that the other candidates may well aid Perry by gunning straight for her.
GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead. People has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”
As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.