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Has Rick Perry proved he's a better campaigner than Michele Bachmann?

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Charles Dharapak/AP

(Read caption) Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, holds a cut out of Spc. James Benal of the Nebraska National Guard, serving in Afghanistan, after it was handed to him by Benal's mother as Perry visited the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Aug. 15.

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Michele Bachmann had a pretty good weekend, if you haven’t heard. The Minnesota congresswoman won the GOP straw poll in Ames, Iowa – solidifying her position as a top tier candidate for the Republican nomination.

Iowa is a “threshold test” for conservatives such as Representative Bachmann, notes polling expert Nate Silver in his FiveThirtyEight blog. It’s necessary that they do well there, though a good performance may not be sufficient to push them over the top.

Now Bachmann has to be considered the favorite to win the Iowa caucuses early next year, according to Mr. Silver.

“She has cleared her first hurdle with aplomb,” he writes.

But here’s a question political experts all over Washington are asking this morning: In recent days has Texas Gov. Rick Perry proved he’s a more adept campaigner than the fiery Bachmann?

Partly this discussion stems from Governor Perry’s smooth appearance Sunday evening in Bachmann’s home town. At the Black Hawk County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner he arrived early, went table to table around the room for affable meet-and-greet, and then spoke strongly. Wisely, he paid court to Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican icon who was in the audience.

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