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Two key tests for Michele Bachmann and her presidential bid

Rep. Michele Bachmann announced her presidential candidacy Monday, saying she is a 'bold choice.' Can she win the Iowa caucuses? And can she broaden her appeal beyond the tea party?

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), addresses a gathering of supporters to formally launch her campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination in her childhood hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, June 27. Bachmann, a rising star of the conservative Tea Party movement, leaped into the race for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination on Monday and said the country cannot afford four more years of President Barack Obama.

Jeff Haynes/Reuters

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Michele Bachmann stood near her girlhood home in Waterloo, Iowa, on Monday and announced her presidential candidacy, saying she is a “bold choice” and that under her leadership the country could “secure the promise of the future for America.”

Ms. Bachmann, a favorite of tea party voters and a three-term member of the US House representing Minnesota, stressed her tries to Iowa. The state is home to the February 2012 caucuses, which will be the first of the presidential nominating season. “Everything I need to know I learned in Iowa,” she told the crowd.

A tax lawyer by training, Bachmann faces two political tests. First, she has to win her home state’s influential caucus to be considered a viable contender. Second, she has to broaden her appeal beyond the tea party enthusiasts who have helped fuel her rise to prominence. Bachmann is the founder of the House of Representative’s Tea Party Caucus.

At this early stage in the race, Bachmann is in a strong position in Iowa. A poll of likely Republican voters in the Iowa caucus, commissioned by The Des Moines Register and released over the weekend, shows her in a statistical dead heat with Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney, who is making less of a push in the state than he did in 2008, had 23 percent support, followed by Bachmann at 22 percent. Former pizza chain executive Herman Cain, who also has tea party support, came in third with 10 percent.

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