NOTE: The Brody File is on vacation but will return Monday, Aug. 29.
With all due respect to Janet Huckabee (Mike Huckabee's wife), Michele Bachmann is Mrs. Huckabee. Not in "that" sense, of course, but you know what I mean.
Bachmann's straw poll victory in Ames proves what people like me who cover politics knew all along: She's the "buzz" candidate. She is attracting evangelical voters just like Mike Huckabee did when he won the Iowa Caucuses four years ago.
Rick Perry has his work cut out for him in his attempt to beat Bachmann out here. The campaign relied heavily on churchgoers to win the straw poll. Many came on buses and there even was an 80-car caravan!
People in and around the Bachmann campaign say they are going to go toe-to-toe with Perry for the evangelical vote in Iowa. Don't be surprised to see her take a playful jab at Perry tonight in Waterloo for waiting until after the straw poll to get into the race.
Now unlike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann is great at raising money. Combine that with a staff that clearly knows how to organize (they pulled off a straw poll win with just five weeks to organize) and what you've got is a candidate that can go far beyond Iowa.
Why? Because she delivers the message in a coherant, folksy, straight forward, easy to understand way. She doesn't come across as a politician. She's connecting and ultimately if the message is relatively the same from all of the candidates, people tend to vote based more on an emotional connection to a candidate. Sounds like Huckabee in 2008.
Clearly Bachmann has three big challenges.
1. She will need to figure out how to combat the critics who will point to her lack of legislative achievements. She doesn't have that Rick Perry type of executive experience. She needs to figure that out fast.
2. She needs to make sure she stays focused and not make ANY mistakes.
3. She will need to fight the "extreme" label and play to Independents. In other words, she needs to somehow stay true to who she is from an evangelical perspective (no problem there) and make the Tea Party message look reasonable and mainstream. A good messenger can do that. Look at the success of Rand Paul and Marco Rubio in 2010.
Will she need some breaks? Of course she will. She will need Perry and Romney to stumble at some point. If they do, she becomes even that much more formidable.
Get ready for a "Holy War" to break out between Bachmann and Perry. Bless their hearts. This should be interesting.
And if Palin gets in (and my hunch is I think she will) then you may have to revive me with smelling salts since I will pass out from being delirious!
I'll be back in the saddle (Rick Perry reference) Aug. 29.