I'm still trying to avoid devoting too much attention to the presidential race, but one thing that has been striking has been the early performance of Michele Bachmann, who represents my neighbors in MN CD-6. While a lot of things could, and likely will, change in this race, so far Bachmann seems to have established herself as the most plausible challenger to Mitt Romney on the Republican side of things.
The secret to Bachmann's success, up to this point, is that she's been incredibly disciplined about staying on message and avoiding the sorts of misstatements that often trip up candidates. Staying on message is a tough thing to do. And I think you can give some of her hometown enemies some of the credit for that.
Ever since Bachmann has burst on the scene, she's had critics, including some incredibly vociferous bloggers in her home district. If you follow the Minnesota blogosphere, chances are good that you've heard of the Dump Bachmann blog, or know of some of the others who have spent a great deal of time trying to stop Bachmann from succeeding. They have been absolutely relentless in their attacks, yet they have not come close to defeating Bachmann in any race. And the more I think about it, I'm increasingly convinced that one reason she is able to keep her focus is that she's learned how to deal with her critics. The best way, quite often, is to avoid dignifying the criticism with a response.
Any conservative politician who wants to succeed has to run a gantelet of institutional critics. Bachmann has faced a sneering Greek chorus her entire career and it's become clear that she's not afraid of them. That same lack of fear comes out in her media appearances with the broader MSM. Back in 2008, Sarah Palin was not ready for what she faced. I get the sense that Bachmann understands what's ahead and is quite well prepared for it.