Can Michele Bachmann Withstand the Attacks?

Because she leads the pack of GOP presidential contenders in Iowa, Michele Bachmann has been attacked on all fronts.

The mainstream media has attacked her husband’s controversial “gay therapy” clinics that received federal taxpayer dollars.

Those on the left have accused Bachmann of being a lightweight demagogue who is insensitive toward gays.

And those on the right have expressed their irritability at someone who they accuse mugs for the cameras while lacking a record of significant legislative accomplishments.

And last night, The Daily Caller published a story that detailed Bachmann’s history of nearly debilitating migraines and her alleged dependence on pills to remedy the panic-induced migraines.

In addition, fellow presidential candidates such as businessman Herman Cain and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have drawn sharp contrasts with Bachmann. For Cain and Pawlenty, drawing these contrasts is a matter of survival — they need to peel away Bachmann’s supporters in order to establish momentum for their campaigns.

Cain, on Fox News Sunday, said that though he and Bachmann were close on the issues, that he has had more “direct  hands-on problem solving experience” in the private sector than Bachmann has had.

“The difference is my problem solver as a business executive,” Cain said. “That is where I have stronger credentials than literally many of the other candidates.”

Indeed, Cain turned around businesses many thought did not have a chance at making a profit, and his experience in the private sector exposes Bachmann’s sparse record in that arena.

Two weeks ago on “Meet the Press,” Pawlenty compared his record with Bachmann’s by saying:

Her record of accomplishment in Congress is non-existent. It’s non-existent. So, we’re not looking for folks who just have a speech capability. We’re looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I’ve done that. She hasn’t.

Despite these attacks, Bachmann still leads in Iowa. She still has a fervent base of fans who rally behind her because she has come down on the right side on issues conservatives care deeply about. Further, unlike some of the more bland candidates in the race, Bachmann is blunt and willing to speak her mind. All these qualities, in addition to her life’s story, have allowed her to leapfrog the competition to the front of the polls in Iowa and establish herself as a serious contender behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

But what if these attacks slowly chip away at her numbers?

And what if candidates such as Ron Paul or Cain or Pawlentyfail to catch on?

There are two possible scenarios that can happpen.

The first, and more obvious one, is that a new entrant such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry or Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin can immediately go to the front of the pack and supplant Bachmann.

The second scenario may be more intriguing.

Say a host of candidates siphon support away from Bachmann but none consolidate it.

Bachmann can then plausibly still eke out a victory in Iowa.

But it would make the race for second that much more compelling and would perhaps tempt someone like Romney to throw more resources into Iowa to seize an opportunity that may appear before him that was not there when the 2012 cycle began.