Interview with Representative Michele Bachmann

Interview with Representative Michele Bachmann

By John King, USA - May 27, 2011

KING: Another one who could be squeezed if Palin runs is Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, but she insists all systems are go Palin or no Palin and promises an announcement next month in her birthplace Waterloo, Iowa. I talked at length with Congresswoman Bachmann about politics and policy including whether she wants Republicans to hold firm or to shy away from a budget plan that includes an increasingly controversial proposal to revamp Medicare.


BACHMANN: I want to commend Paul Ryan because I think it is very important that we actually keep Medicare secure and solvent.

KING: The question becomes what happens in the negotiations that come.


KING: If you get Republicans who start to get soft obviously when you're negotiating with the Senate that will disappear. If Republicans in the House hold their resolve, you won't get it all. That's compromise, the way the system works. But the question is should Republicans dig in and say no, we're not going to blink here or should they be looking for some sort of a compromise?

BACHMANN: Well you have to have an answer because again we know that it won't be that many years and Medicare will be insolvent. And so we have to make it work. We have to make it solvent so that we --

KING: (INAUDIBLE) some kind of voucher program for anybody 55 or under?

BACHMANN: That's what the compromise would be about. What would that program look like? This is my asterisk on the Ryan plan. Number one, I want senior citizens to know no one 55 years of age or older will be impacted in any way. The system will be exactly as it is. It will only be reformed to those 55 and younger and it will actually be a better program. That's the net positive --

KING: How much does the government need to get out of, meaning save in the Medicare program over the next 10 years then?

BACHMANN: Well I'm not talking in terms of the numbers and how much we're going to cut because that will going to be -- that will be a part of the negotiation. I think it's really retooling the new focus, more options, better options, leaner, more efficient government, less bureaucratic, but at the same time I want a component focused on cures.


BACHMANN: Curing these diseases so that they have a higher quality of life and save money.

KING: And if the Democrats -- if the Democrats do what they did in New York 26 and say that Republicans are throwing granny off the cliff and the Democrats --


KING: -- get a short term --

BACHMANN: That's wrong.

KING: -- political advantage from that should the Republicans hold in, even if maybe the next election you lose?

BACHMANN: I think that senior citizens recognize that something has to be done because again 13 years, poor Mother Hubbard's cupboard is going to be bare when it comes to Medicare. And so we've got to make the system work. And it would be foolish for Democrats just to run terrible ads to scare people because that doesn't work either. We've got -- it isn't just a Republican solution. It has to be bipartisan and it has to be both parties coming together, because this is bigger than us. I mean this is our senior citizen population that's growing and we can't leave them in the lurch.

KING: We're at an interesting time in our foreign policy. You have said the United States in your view should not be in Libya.

BACHMANN: That's right.

KING: That there's no national security, vital national security interests --

BACHMANN: That's right.

KING: There is no national security -- vital national security interest.

BACHMANN: That's what Secretary of Defense Gates said.

KING: You also -- but you voted against proposal in the House that would have put timeline on deployment in Afghanistan. And a growing number of Democrats and Republicans seem to be tired, seem to be thinking it is time to get out of Afghanistan, maybe more so with the death of bin Laden.

BACHMANN: I agree. But here's the difference -- at this point, I don't think it's fair for Congress members to usurp our decision- making over that of the generals on the ground. It's very important that the generals and also the intelligence gathering sources get that information up to the commander-in-chief, whether it's George Bush or whether it's Barack Obama. I think it's very important that we do allow the commanders on the ground working with Special Forces, working with intelligence gathering, to get the right information.

For politicians to come in and try to implement a political decision on timing of troop withdrawal I don't think is helpful. I'm tired of Afghanistan and Iraq, too. I think we need to get out. I think Afghanistan is -- on many, many levels, it doesn't seem we're gaining any ground. I want to reduce U.S. exposure in Afghanistan. So, let's get them out as quickly as we can. But at the same time, I don't want to tell the generals when they're going to get out. That really needs to be the experts.

KING: Describe Michele Bachmann's world view in the sense I would say John McCain, the Republicans' last nominee, George W. Bush, the Republican's last president, I would describe them and I think it's fair to describe them as interventionist. If they see a foreign policy overseas, they are not reluctant to use military force, whether it is in Iraq. Senator McCain was out there saying the president should get involved in Libya. There's that approach.

Then there's Ron Paul who says, no, none of our business, stay back, let these countries figure it out themselves, and in incredibly rare circumstances project U.S. power overseas.

Where would you be if you were president of the United States?

BACHMANN: My view of foreign policy is that we need to be careful and circumspect about United States intervention in any foreign nation. Number one, does that nation pose a threat to the United States? Number two, have they attacked the United States? Number three, are there vital American national interests at stake? Number four: the security of the American people.

Those are the first issues that we look at. That was not met when it came to Libya. As well, we did -- Secretary Gates said he did not know what our military objective was in Libya. Well, why would we be there for heaven's sakes?

We are looking at unprecedented unrest in the Middle East. I completely stand in opposition to what President Obama's remarks were last week regarding Israel, saying that Israel must shrink borders to 1967 borders and to allow a passageway for Palestine -- that would be the wrong thing to do. It would bring greater hostility to the Middle East.

KING: That's not exactly what he said. He did say with mutually agreed to -- mutually negotiated land swaps. Now, it is very rare for any president of the United States, of course, to use the term 1967 borders. However, he did say and clarified it in the AIPAC speech that just as they had a plan in the table late in the Clinton administration, you essentially go back to 1967, but then you negotiate land swaps. Israel says --

BACHMANN: John, you can defend, you can stand here and defend the president's remarks. I will not defend the president's remarks.

KING: I'm not defending. I'm not explaining.

BACHMANN: The president's remarks are amplified across the Middle East. Don't think this was a tremendous insult that the president gave to Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister. The president gave these remarks the day before the prime minister came to the United States. That symbolism was not lost on Israel's opponent.

Israel is what's working in the Middle East region now. The United States should do everything they can and not cast any aspersions on Israel and this process right now at this particular time. The president's moves in a statement last week were dangerous in a volatile region.

KING: You say dangerous in a volatile region. The White House would disagree.

Let's shift to politics. Is there any doubt, and should anybody out there watching have any doubt that Michele Bachmann will be a candidate for Republican nomination for president?

BACHMANN: I will let people know in June. I said in the beginning that's when we'll let people know. We are working, putting a plan into place, that we believe will be a very effective plan, but we aren't giving that final information out, whether we are in or rather we aren't.

But I'm scheduled to be in Iowa and South Carolina and New Hampshire and I can't wait to go. They are beautiful states. I am an Iowan. I was born in Iowa.

KING: And so -- funny you mentioned that. So, if there's a Republican that says I like Michele Bachmann on the issues.

BACHMANN: You should come to my Facebook site. Join my Twitter account. Go to and donate. That's what I would say.

KING: So, if there's a Republican out there who says, you know, she makes sense to me. I like her on the issues. But can she do what it takes to beat President Obama?

BACHMANN: Well, of course I can.

KING: We know he could raise maybe $1 billion. Can you raise $1 billion?

BACHMANN: If I chose to run, I run to win. That's the only way I do it, because if I'm in, I'm in. And I will do -- I'm an extremely hard worker.

My life is a story of being an extremely hard worker, as a mother of five, and we raised 23 foster children in our home. I was a federal tax litigation attorney. My husband and I started a successful company. We worked very hard in our lives.

And this country needs someone now that will pay attention to job creation, that's number one. And that's what I would intend to do to turn the economy around.

KING: When you're looking at this plan of yours, what does it have for a number on, if we are serious, we have to raise X.

BACHMANN: We have to raise enough to win. I don't know that -- I don't think anyone knows yet whether President Obama will be able to raise $1 billion or not. That number has floated around. I think it's used as a club against any Republican candidate to say you could never raise that much money. It's yet to be seen whether President Obama can raise that in this economy. So, we'll see how that is.

But, honestly, it's the American people that vote. The American people's vote can't be bought. It can't be bought, because they want the country to work for their kids. And there's a huge number of people right now, John, don't believe their children will be as well off as they are.

That needs to change, because we are a good country, and we can turn this around. We can have a better economy. Not with President Obama's policies, we can have a better country so people can know that their children can do better, and seniors won't be left in the lurch. So, we need to get with the program and do what works.

KING: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, appreciate your time.

BACHMANN: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.

John King, USA

Author Archive

Follow Real Clear Politics

Latest On Twitter