Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

By John King, USA - September 9, 2011

KING: The House Republican leadership sees room for compromise with President Obama on a jobs package, but they won't get any help in that effort from GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, , who says the president's new proposal would do all harm and no good.

Congresswoman Bachmann, of course, is a Tea Party favorite and a presidential candidate who joins us tonight from the campaign trail in Colorado.

Congresswoman, thanks for spending some time with us.

I want to get to the president's proposal in a minute, but I want to talk to you about the urgent threat we hear now about the potential of a threat on the 9/11 anniversary. You are a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

I want you to in as much detail as you can, share with us what you have been told about this threat? And do you view it as a credible, specific threat?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One thing that I want to assure the American people, this is a bipartisan effort when it comes to the safety and security of the American people. I believe that the administration is doing everything that they need to do to secure the safety of the people. I'm grateful for that.

We are working together, Democrats and Republicans, and the House Intelligence Committee is a completely bipartisan committee.

KING: What makes this potential threat different? What in the chatter makes people think it is more significant, more potential to be real than the other chatter that you're briefed about all the time?

BACHMANN: Well, of course, without being able to give details, there is a level of agreement in the intelligence committee that this threat is one that rises to the level that the American public should be informed. And I think that, again, the intelligence community is acting in a way to secure the safety of the American people and it's wise and prudent to heed those concerns this weekend.

KING: Let's move on to the president's job proposal. He outlined it in his speech to the Congress last night. It's a mix.

There are some tax cuts in there. There's some new spending in there. Tax cuts to help people get jobs, spending proposals to keep teachers on payroll in states throughout the country, some infrastructure initiatives.

After the speech, Congresswoman Bachmann, candidate Bachmann she didn't like it all. Let's listen.


BACHMANN: Tonight, the president, under the veil of one of the most sacred deliberative forums, a joint session of Congress, delivered yet one more political speech where he doubled down on more of the same policies that are killing the United States economy.


KING: And yet last night and again this morning, Congresswoman, your own Republican leadership, Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, they say they see some things they like. They think the president has some things just right.

Listen to Leader Cantor.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: I think that what Washington needs and what the American people need is for us to find some agreement here and there are plenty of things that we can agree on.


KING: Let's set the president aside for a minute. Is your Republican leadership wrong?

BACHMANN: Well, I think there are areas that we could agree if they're pro-growth policies. The problem is, the president didn't have any of them in his speech last night.

I would love to see a jobs recovery plan. I would have loved to have seen one 2 1/2 years ago. We didn't even get a plan last night, John. What we got one more political speech.

The president didn't indicate exactly how much this effort would cost. We're hearing some estimates that maybe another $450 billion that we don't have, that we'll have to borrow, that we'll have to go into debt for, when we haven't paid off the more than $1 trillion that the president spent already on these failed ideas.

I think, really, the key last night is that what we saw is the plan that the president already has given to us in the past, and it's a plan that hasn't worked.

KING: You see it's regurgitation of failed policies. One of the things the White House says that a centerpiece of this proposal, a payroll tax cut, both for employees and employers, is something that 50 House Republicans, including Michele Bachmann, proposed back in 2010.

Is this a case of simply because he's for it, you're against it? Isn't a piece of this plan something you have supported in the past?

BACHMANN: Now what we're seeing is the effect of actually putting it into place and it hasn't worked. That's the real problem. But even more than that, it's a gimmick. It's a temporary gimmick.

Why wasn't the president humble? Why didn't he say he was wrong? Why didn't he say he was sorry?

KING: Forgive me for interrupting. But is it fair to say that you say it didn't work. Is it fair to say that you think he's wrong now and do you concede that when you proposed this back in 2010, it would have been the wrong idea?

BACHMANN: Well, I mentioned with other members of Congress that we could look at this as one possible piece of a package. And yes, we haven't -- now when we're in this time of serious deficits, this is not the time to do this. And let me tell you why, because this is $11 billion that didn't go to the Social Security Trust Fund. And that's a real significant issue to senior citizens.

KING: Let's stay on Social Security. You will be part of a Republican debate Monday night here on CNN, sponsored in part by the Tea Party Express as well. You were part of the debate this week in which Texas Governor Rick Perry, the man who has eclipsed you in some way in this race, described Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, is it?

BACHMANN: Social Security is a safety net that many Americans have paid into for their entire life. They see that this is their retirement. I believe that the federal government needs to keep its promise with senior citizens, and that's why when President Obama made the decision to lower the payroll tax and take away $111 billion, that put senior citizen's payroll or Social Security checks at risk.

KING: What about Governor Perry? Do you believe a Republican nominee for president can carry the general election if they are on the record as saying Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, that they wrote in their book that they believe it's unconstitutional, that the Founding Fathers could have never seen anything like Social Security, a federal retirement program? Can a candidate with those views carry Florida, carry Pennsylvania, carry Iowa, carry Arizona, carry Minnesota?

BACHMANN: Well, of course, the voters in that state will have to weigh in and let the American people -- let the people know --


KING: What do you think, Congresswoman? What do you think?

BACHMANN: What I think is that America needs to keep its promise to senior citizens. I talk with them all the time. I love senior citizens. I care about them. My mom is 80 and my dad is 87. I know right now we're in trouble. We know that they are trouble in both of these systems. They have to be reformed but we have to keep our promises with senior citizens.

KING: Let me ask you. Back after our CNN debate in New Hampshire a couple months back, you were in the headlines, you had some campaign momentum, even some of your critics said you turn in a very strong debate performance.

Here are a couple of the headlines after the most recent Republican debate. "Perry and Romney Joust Over Direction of GOP." "Perry gets tough welcome at decade." "Perry and Romney spar in GOP debate."

In our most recent poll, you're essentially tied for fourth. Back after that CNN debate, you were in second place. You had a campaign shakeup where Ed Rollins step aside or into an advisory role, another advisor left the campaign.

Do you feel heading into Monday's debate that you have something to prove or risk stalling?

BACHMANN: Well, no. We're doing very well. We're very happy and very confident with the reception we're getting all across the country.

Don't forget -- there's only been one true vote in this race so far, it's the Iowa straw poll. I won the Iowa straw poll and it was a stunning victory, even more than people realize, because I had been in that race a shorter period of time than anyone who had ever participated in the Iowa straw poll.

I'm the first woman to have won that straw poll. We're very confident with that.

And also, don't forget, in the last election cycle, Fred Thompson jumped in late, and he was polling at 31 percent. Rudy Giuliani jumped in late, he was polling at about 35 percent.

This isn't unusual. Campaigns aren't settled just in a day. This is a marathon. And we're very pleased.

And by the way, with our campaign, our campaign is doing very well. Ed Rollins was with me in California at the Reagan Library and he is probably my chief champion and supporter. So, there's no disruption in our campaign machinery.

We're a lean, mean machine and we're moving forward with gusto and we're picking up votes and supporters all across the United States.

KING: You mention the straw poll. Let me close by asking you a question, that might be about as risky to answer as to anything about what you're going to do about Social Security and Medicare. You're going to go to the Iowa state/Iowa game this weekend. Who's your team?

BACHMANN: Well, I was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and I love being back in my state. As a matter of fact, I'll be there a little bit later tonight. A woman, John, you will love this, offered to sew a shirt for me. She's taking half of one team's shirt and half of the other and she's sewing it together. So that's what I'll be wearing tomorrow at the game.

KING: Splitting the difference. Safe politics in Iowa I would guess.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, thank you for your time.

BACHMANN: I can't wait to be there. John, thanks so much. It's great to be with you again.

KING: Thank you. We'll see you Monday in Tampa. 

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