Published: Jul 14, 2011 7:31 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 14, 2011 6:31 PM EDT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Michele Bachmann's rise in Republican presidential race polls is making the tea party favorite an enticing target for rival campaigns.

But the Minnesota congresswoman's opponents so far - all men - are treading lightly. They're sensitive to gender concerns and mindful of angering the tea party voters they hope to court themselves.

Since entering the 2012 race last month, the three-term lawmaker has seen her standing in polls rise. Several surveys in the lead-off caucus state of Iowa show her challenging the front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, for the lead.

That's not to say that candidates aren't willing to criticize her.

Just a few days ago, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said that Bachmann had a "nonexistent record of accomplishment" in Congress.

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