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Sarah Palin. The very mention of her name invokes a strong response from almost everyone. You either love her or hate her. (Count me in the former category.) Until now, Palin has been sucking up all the oxygen in the media with her “Will-I-run-or-will-I-not” bus tour.

I confess that since the 2008 election, I have been disappointed with the former Alaska governor. I was sure that when she was free from the McCain campaign and could finally speak for herself, she would lose the generalities that dominate political speech and dazzle us with specifics. I’m still waiting. In short, I admire what she has accomplished, but I hope she doesn’t run.

I felt much the same way about Michele Bachmann. I hoped she would not run – until around 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Although Bachmann has a potpourri of interesting experience, I felt it was too thin to be a serious candidate. I’ve admired the fact that she has been willing to go anywhere at any time to build a case for free-market, conservative principles, but I felt she would be nothing more than a distraction.

Long before the end of the GOP debate in New Hampshire, it was clear this lady would be the winner and is now ready and able to mix it up with the “Big Boys.” Bachmann grabbed the spotlight at the very beginning when she formally announced that she was, in fact, running for president and, in the hour and a half that followed, she left the other candidates in her dust. She was poised and polished to a high gloss. Her remarks were pithy, specific, carefully chosen and to the point.

Whenever one of the Big Boys made a good suggestion, she trumped them citing her record or personal experience with the issue. After Newt Gingrich said that Congress should repeal Dodd-Frank (the so-called Wall Street reform bill), Bachmann hit it out of the park:

I introduced the bill to repeal Dodd-Frank, because it’s an over-the-top bill that will actually lead to more job loss, rather than job creation.

Does Obama have the right policy on Libya?

No, I don’t believe it is. That isn’t just my opinion. That was the opinion of our defense secretary, Gates, when he came before the United States Congress. He could not identify a vital national American interest in Libya.

On TARP:

I was behind closed doors with Secretary Paulson when he came and made the extraordinary, never-before-made request to Congress: Give us a $700 billion blank check with no strings attached. And I fought behind closed doors against my own party on TARP.

On job creation:

The United States has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. I’m a former federal tax lawyer. I’ve seen the devastation. We’ve got to bring that tax rate down substantially so that we’re among the lowest in the industrialized world.

On a specific program to cut:

What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills: the repeal bill that will get rid of job-killing regulations. And I would begin with the EPA. … It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America.

On the repeal of Obamacare:

I was the very first member of Congress to introduce the full-scale repeal of Obamacare. And I want to make a promise to everyone watching tonight: As president of the United States, I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare. It’s a promise. Take it to the bank, cash the check. I’ll make sure that happens.

On raising the debt ceiling:

I’ve already voted no on raising the debt ceiling in the past. … But I want to speak to someone that’s far more eloquent than I. Someone who said just dealing with the issue of raising the debt ceiling is a failure of leadership. That person was then-Sen. Barack Obama. He refused to raise the debt ceiling because he said President Bush had failed in leadership.

Game, set, match!

Like Palin, Bachmann is attractive and articulate (minus the down-home charm that some find offensive). Like Palin, Bachmann has done an incredible job of balancing family and career. While Palin is a mother to five, Bachmann is a mother to 28, five of her own and 23 foster children. No one can argue. That’s an incredible accomplishment!

Palin plowed the field for conservative women who are aiming for the White House. It is now entirely possible that Bachmann may reap this harvest. Could she be the dark horse who thunders out of nowhere like the 304-day Senate wonder who became our 44th president?

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