Palin, Bachmann Taking GOP Race by Storm

Tuesday, 07 Jun 2011 02:44 PM

By Martin Gould

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Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are taking the Republican presidential race by storm — even though neither has formally announced they will run.

The former Alaska governor and the Minnesota congresswoman, who insist they are friends not rivals, are showing all the signs that they will provide GOP voters with their first genuine opportunity to vote for a female in the White House in 12 years.

Each has the money, the backing, and the name recognition to go the distance against the men. And, as GOP Pollster Kellyanne Conway points out, their “groomed attractiveness” is also a major plus.

“They look like homecoming queens, but they talk like Ronald Reagan. Who wouldn’t want that combination?” Conway tellsT he Washington Post.

Conway says Republican women voters increasingly want candidates to whom they can relate.

“While other male politicians were building their careers, these women were making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Conway told the Post. “The populist appeal is right for these times.”

Voters now identify with more mainstream, entrepreneurial candidates without Ivy League educations, she said.

The two potential candidates share many characteristics. Both have five children. Neither is afraid to say exactly what’s on her mind, even if it is something that more timid politicians would shy away from, and both appeal to tea party activists.

The history of viable women candidates for the nation’s top office is embarrassingly short, Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid in which she conceded to Barack Obama only after the final primary being easily the most successful. The only other Democrat to make a serious bid was Shirley Chisholm, who received 152 votes at the 1972 convention.

On the Republican side, Margaret Chase Smith went all the way to the 1964 convention before Barry Goldwater defeated her, and Elizabeth Dole ran for the 2000 nomination but pulled out before the primary season because of a  lack of funding.

But Bachmann and Palin seem to be in the right place at the right time to follow in the footsteps of world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. In the revolution that marked the 2010 midterm elections, there were nine new GOP women in the House, one in the Senate and three new women governors.

And conservative women have become more of a political force since the 2008 election, especially in the tea party, where they have taken on many leading roles.

But the question still remains as to whether either Palin or Bachmann can beat out the men. The most recent odds offered by online gambling site Paddy Power puts them in a tie for fourth place at 12-1 behind Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman, but ahead of other candidates including Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum.

AdvantageInsider Pollster and President Matt Towery notes to Newsmax that any current poll numbers for Palin or Bachmann need to take women voters into account. “As women voters get to know a woman candidate, the voters tend to migrate towards that candidate. The percentage of women voters leaning towards a woman candidate increases as you get deeper into the primaries.”

Bachmann is believed to be on the verge of officially announcing her candidacy — on Monday, she tapped political strategist Ed Rollins to run her presidential campaign — and most political observers consider Palin to be the more likely to win if they both declare.

But Bachmann already has a war chest of more than $3 million, which should be enough to allow her to stay in the race at least until the first primaries. The hiring of Rollins, who was Mike Huckabee's national campaign director in 2008 and ran the Reagan-Bush re-election campaign in 1984, is another sign she's serious about running.

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