Can Michele Bachmann Win the 2012 GOP Nomination?

The Tea Party queen officially kicked off her campaign Monday morning.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann has broken free of Sarah Palin’s shadow: She is no longer a fringe candidate in the race for the 2012 GOP nomination but is seen as being in the top tier. But can she win?

[See a photo gallery of Michele Bachmann.]

Monday morning, Bachmann officially launched her campaign with a speech in her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa, which is conveniently located in the first-caucus-in-the-nation state. “We can win in 2012, and we will,” she said, adding that she represents a wide and growing swath of Americans: “It's the-peace-through-strength Republicans, and I'm one of them, it's fiscal conservatives, and I'm one of them, and it's social conservatives, and I'm one of them. It's the Tea Party movement and I'm one of them.” [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP primary.]

Just two days before her announcement, the Des Moines Register released its highly-anticipated poll which placed Bachmann in a virtual tie with frontrunner Mitt Romney among likely Republican Iowa caucus voters. And the latest national Zogby poll of likely GOP voters, taken June 17-21, put her in the top spot with 24 percent. Romney and Herman Cain tied for second with 15 percent each.

Bachmann performed well at the GOP debate a few weeks ago, but she still faces criticism of whether or not she is a serious candidate, based on previous gaffes and historical errors. On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace brought up such criticism and asked Bachman: “Are you a flake?” [See a slide show of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

Obviously insulted, Bachmann handled the question adeptly, turning the conversation to her background and accomplishments. “I’m a serious person,” she said. When Wallace pressed, she responded:

I’m 55 years old. I’ve been married 33 years. I’m not only a lawyer, I have a post-doctorate degree in federal tax law from William & Mary. I’ve worked in serious scholarship and in work in the United States Federal Tax Court. My husband and I have raised five kids, we've raised 23 foster children. We've applied ourselves to education reform. We started a charter school for at-risk kids. I've also been a state senator and member of the United States Congress for five years.

But the question itself indicates she still has a lot of work to do if she wants Republican voters to trust her to represent them in the race against President Obama in 2012.

What do you think? Can Michele Bachmann win the 2012 GOP nomination? Take the poll and post your thoughts below.

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Previously: Will There Be a Debt Ceiling Deal?