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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bachmann is scheduled to launch her presidential bid formally on Monday
  • She has hired Sarah Palin's debate coach, nabbed Haley Barbour's pollster
  • Bachmann's staff challenge is to broaden her appeal beyond conservative activists

Washington (CNN) -- Forget political pedigree, executive experience or ties to deep-pocketed donors.

No Republican presidential candidate is better positioned to capitalize on the recent tide of conservative anger toward President Barack Obama than Michele Bachmann.

Her charisma and crossover appeal to both social and fiscal conservatives have the three-term Minnesota congresswoman rising in the polls and primed to make a serious impact on the GOP nomination fight.

Bachmann, unlike several of her rivals making appeals to the Tea Party movement, has the resources and fundraising potential to steer her campaign beyond the crucial early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Though firmly on the insurgent side of the Republican field, she is also taking steps to position herself as a credible alternative to the crop of establishment-friendly White House contenders with deep pockets and long political resumes.

She has hired Sarah Palin's debate coach. She nabbed Haley Barbour's pollster.

And Bachmann's campaign organization will be based not in Minnesota, but in Washington, where the coming battle on Capitol Hill over raising the debt ceiling will place her squarely in the middle of the national political debate this summer.

Most her rivals, now out of office, will be watching from the sidelines.

The question of whether Bachmann can ride these advantages all the way to the Republican nomination will begin to be answered on Monday in Iowa, where she formally launches her presidential bid in Waterloo.

That Bachmann was born in Waterloo and lived there until age 12 is fortuitous. Iowa, political observers say, is now key to Bachmann's chances of becoming president.

The bad news for Bachmann is that she has to win Iowa. Without it her campaign is over. The good news for Bachmann is that she can win Iowa.
--Curt Anderson, Republican strategist

"The bad news for Bachmann is that she has to win Iowa," said Republican strategist Curt Anderson, who is not aligned with any 2012 campaign. "Without it her campaign is over. The good news for Bachmann is that she can win Iowa."

That much is true. A Des Moines Register poll released over the weekend confirmed what many Iowa Republicans have been proclaiming for months: That barring a late entry into the race by a high-profile conservative like Palin or Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Bachmann might be the Iowa frontrunner.

Bachmann captured the support of 22% of likely caucus-goers in the survey, putting her just one percentage point behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP frontrunner who does not plan to compete as seriously in Iowa as he did during the 2008 race.

No other candidate came close to that level of support, including Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Sen. Rick Santorum, businessman Herman Cain or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- all candidates who, like Bachmann, are angling for support among Tea Party activists and social conservatives.

Strikingly, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has campaigned in Iowa for more than a year but has struggled to gain traction, took just 6%.