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On the Trail with Michele Bachmann

In Charleston, two women who admitted they were from “the most liberal zip code” in the state had come to see Bachmann out of sheer curiosity. They left halfway through her stump, but the episode illustrated Bachmann’s intrigue to those on the other side of the political spectrum.

Taking the stage to Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” at her earlier stops, Bachmann was buoyed by the energy of her audience as the tour continued. While her campaign is about tackling serious issues, she showed her lighter side by cutting a rug with her husband onstage at a rally in Myrtle Beach, and got laughs from a backyard crowd in Raymond, New Hampshire, when describing her early dates to a nursing home where her husband used to volunteer as a young adult.

Her husband Marcus, now a clinical therapist, even came and sat in the back of the plane with the traveling press pool to offer free psychoanalysis.

That Bachmann has been able to capture significant momentum this early in the race is notable; the fact that she has been able to do so with minimal campaign structure and organization is impressive.

The congresswoman skipped the exploratory phase altogether and instead focused on the New Hampshire debate earlier this month as her launching pad to the GOP nomination. (President Barack Obama formed his exploratory committee about a month before his official launch; Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney seems to have been preparing for a run at the White House since he folded his last presidential campaign in February 2008).

The debate was supposed to be Mitt Romney's big debut, but Bachmann stole the show and quickly became the story of the night as she boldly exclaimed: "President Barack Obama will be a one-term president!"

Bachmann knew she needed to perform well at the debate to get her campaign off the ground, and an early goal for her was to assemble the best team to get her prepared. In addition to campaign veteran Ed Rollins, Bachmann’s early staff additions include Palin debate coach Brett O’Donnell, strategist Keith Nahigian, former Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart, and pollster Ed Goeas.

Team Bachmann’s initial leg work seems to be paying off: the congresswoman is in a statistical tie with Romney in Iowa according to the latest Des Moines Register survey, and in New Hampshire, a Suffolk University poll shows her climbing seven percentage points just in the last month alone.

While the 2012 election is still in the early stages and any candidate is always one news cycle away from irrelevance (see Gingrich, Newt), it is important to point out that the enthusiasm behind Bachmann is similar to the reception Obama and Palin had when they were introduced on the national scene. But while Bachmann’s detractors and critics have questioned whether or not she has the fortitude to mount a serious campaign, those who attended her announcement tour walked away with one thing in mind: Michele Bachmann is the real deal.

Also watch Alexis at PJTV: BOY'S CLUB BEWARE: Michele Bachmann Enters the Race for President