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A number of analysts have expressed surprise at Michele Bachmann’s impressive performance at the debate on Monday night, but Alex Spillius and Toby Harnden reveal in today’s Telegraph one of the behind-the-scenes reasons why. According to Spillius and Harnden, Bachmann’s “sure-footed performance showed the beneficial effects of being coached by Brett O’Donnell.” O’Donnell helped John McCain navigate the debate gauntlet in 2008 and before that helped out with debate prep on the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, which is where I first worked with him. O’Donnell really knows his stuff. In fact, as campaign consultant Mark McKinnon once noted, O’Donnell “knows more about presidential debates than anyone I’ve ever talked to.” He is also very well-versed in conservative politics, having worked the Director of Debate at Liberty University for 18 years. In his time there, Liberty – not usually considered an academic powerhouse – consistently challenged and bested the big boys in debate competition. Expect Bachmann to continue to be a debating force with O’Donnell in her camp. If she does not end up getting the nomination, as most pundits are predicting, the eventual winner would be wise to add O’Donnell to their team to prepare for the 2012 showdowns with President Obama.