Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

By The Situation Room - September 19, 2011

BLITZER: And joining us now from Waterloo, Iowa, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She's a Republican from Minnesota. She's also running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Congresswoman, thanks very much for joining us.

I want to get your immediate reaction to the president's initiative today to try to reduce the federal debt, which is enormous, as all of us know.

Here is what our latest CNN/ORC poll showed. We asked, should deficit reduction, should such a bill increase taxes on businesses and higher-income Americans, which is what the president wants? Sixty- three percent said yes; 36 percent said no.

You say no. Why do you disagree with the president that big business and rich Americans shouldn't pay a little bit more?

BACHMANN: Well, because we already have these entities paying taxes. And, again, the most important thing is that we focus on job creation.

And what we know is that this will not create new jobs. It may be a good sound bite for the president. It may work for his political interests, but it doesn't work for job creation. And right now, this can't be about the president. This has to be about the American people and whether or not we're going to have jobs created.

Let me give you the answer of one businessman here in Iowa today. I'm standing here on the shop floor in Waterloo, Iowa, of a great company called OMJC, a very hardworking company. Before that, I was in northeast Iowa and it was at a company called Sukup. And they create the grain storage bins. They have about 500 employees.

I asked them this morning, Wolf, about the president's jobs plan. They heard it. They had one word. They said "disaster." It's going to be a disaster for their business and their company, because they said it brings more uncertainty, increased taxes, increased government spending. Everything that hasn't worked in the past, they're now going to have more of and double down. And they just thought it was a disaster.

BLITZER: Because the president cites Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, as you know. He recently wrote an op-ed saying it's unfair that, on his income, he might pay 16 percent, 17 percent in federal income tax, whereas his secretary or some people who work for him might pay 35 percent, which is the top income tax rate right now. You're a tax lawyer. Is that fair? Because the president says he wants to create a new Buffett rule to change that, so Warren Buffett and other billionaires would pay the same rate as middle- income Americans.

BACHMANN: Well, then it sounds like the president would favor a flat tax. There's a lot of Republicans that would favor a flat tax, too, so that everyone pays the same rate.

And, of course, what that would mean then is doing away with the loopholes for everyone. But, of course, in the president's plan, he plans to have only some Americans have the benefit of the home mortgage interest deduction, and he plans to have only some Americans benefit from charitable giving. And he plans to only have some Americans benefit from being able to write off what they already pay in state and local income taxes.

The president is being very discriminatory in what his plans are. And he is once again proving himself to be the great divider, rather than the great uniter.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on and clear up a couple of the issues that came up at the debate that I moderated in Tampa a week ago on that HPV vaccine, for example.

You have been criticized, as you well know, Congresswoman, for repeating a story that some woman told you after the debate, that her daughter became mentally retarded as a result of getting that vaccine, and all the experts saying that's -- that's not possible.

Do you want to clarify exactly where you stand on that specific point?

BACHMANN: At the end of the debate, I went forward to where all of the people were in the audience. And I was shaking hands with various people. And the woman in question was sobbing and said, "Thank you for bringing this issue up about the potential side effects."

And of course one thing that we know, the drug manufacturers now on television, when they advertise a drug, they have to give all of the negative side effects that there potentially can be, and then people are requested to go look to their doctor. That's it.

I wasn't speaking as a doctor. I wasn't speaking as a scientist. I was merely passing on, in an interview after the debate, what I had been told.

Because again, the main point of my remarks was the crony capitalism and also the fact that there was an abuse of executive power. I fight that all the time in Washington, D.C., with President Obama. We don't want to see that with Republicans either.

BLITZER: The CNN contributor, the Republican strategist Mary Matalin here in THE SITUATION ROOM the other day, she really went after you, because you haven't backed away from that, what you repeated that woman saying. I'm going to play a little clip, because I want to give you a chance to respond to Mary Matalin. Listen to this.


MARY MATALIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What is not legit is to just make up stuff like the vaccine is -- causing mental retardation. She -- and it follow a troublesome pattern of her having done that in the past.

So she -- and whatever his executive order and his position on HPV, 41 states have addressed this issue in some form or fashion. Twenty states, including Minnesota, have something on the books. So it's not some outlier issue, but she -- she's in perilous danger of branding herself batty. I hate to say that, but she ought to pull back, not double down.


BLITZER: All right. I want you to respond to Mary Matalin. You're in dangerous -- perilous danger of branding yourself batty, she said. What do you say to Mary Matalin?

BACHMANN: Well, and of course, this is something that someone had said to me, a mother who was very concerned. And I think we've already addressed this issue, that the real point that I made in the debate when you were there is the fact that this is an abuse of executive privilege, which the governor in fact admitted that he did make a mistake.

And also this is a real issue of crony capitalism. It's very significant that the president's former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company. And the drug company was putting pressure on the governor to issue an executive order to mandate that little innocent 12-year-old girls be forced to take this -- this potentially dangerous drug. That's really what the point was in the debate.

So a lot of people are missing the main point. And the main point is that crony capitalism and abuse of executive power, which the governor himself admitted he made a mistake in doing.


BLITZER: All right. There's much more of my interview coming up with Michele Bachmann. She's going to explain why she thinks that President Obama doesn't have Israel's back here at the United Nations right now.

Plus new details of a massive weather satellite expected to crash to Earth in a matter of days.


BLITZER: More now of my interview with Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, a sharp critic of President Obama as we all know, especially when it comes to his handling of the Middle East.


BLITZER: Let me switch to foreign policy, national security for a moment, Congresswoman. I'm here at the United Nations. There's going to be a big debate over the creation of a Palestinian state at the General Assembly, maybe the Security Council this week.

If you were president of the United States, and you want to be president of the United States, what if anything could you do, would you do to deal with this issue?

BACHMANN: I think I would not have done what President Obama did, which was not stand by Israel. Very early on, the president of the United States needed to stand up and say that the United States would have Israel's back.

Instead, the president made a very unwise move in May when he called upon Israel to retreat to its indefensible 1967 borders. That sent a profound signal to other nations that surround Israel, especially those with hostile designs on Israel.

Now we're in a very difficult situation where it appears that the president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, will be in the United States and also be a part of pressing for Palestinian statehood. Now, the problem with that is that Palestine is seeking to do that without, A, recognizing Israel's right to exist or Israel's right to defend herself or renounce terrorism against Israel. It's very important that they have to negotiate with Israel, not have this imposed on Israel. So the president sent very bad signals.

Now we're in a position of weakness. And also it hasn't helped to have the overspending that we've had and the borrowing from other nations like China. This has put us in a position of weakness when we are now the largest debtor nation in the world, as opposed to the early 1980s under Reagan, when we were the largest creditor in the world. And so that's reduced our standing at the U.N., as well.

BLITZER: We're almost out of time, Congresswoman, but the president also said Israel should negotiate on the basis of those pre- '67 borders, but then he added the phrase "with mutually agreed land swaps," meaning there would be changes from the pre-'67 lines. Is that not acceptable to you?

BACHMANN: I think Israel has given away more than enough of its land. I don't believe that Israel should have to give away any more of its land.

We saw when Israel -- I believe it was back in 2005 or thereabouts -- when Israel gave up Gaza. When that happened, there has been very few days that have gone by that Israel has not received attacks from Gaza. Because some rockets have continually gone in areas like Sderot and down in the lower area. This has had profound consequences on Israel.

And whenever Israel gives up land for peace, they give up the land, but they don't get -- they don't get peace in return. And Israel is in a highly volatile situation right now. And my opinion is that the president has not done Israel any favors by making the unwise speech that he made earlier this year when he called on Israel to retreat to its indefensible 1967 borders.

The best thing that the president could do would be on stand up with Israel and make it absolutely, unmistakably believe that the United States will stand with Israel and be Israel's ally.

BLITZER: We're out of time, but very quickly, so you don't think Israel should withdraw from any of the West Bank?

BACHMANN: I do not think that Israel should be withdrawing from -- from the West Bank. I also called on the president of the United States to disallow Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, to step even one foot in the United States. It was only perhaps three weeks ago that the president of Iran once again said that Israel should be eradicated off the face of the Earth.

As you recall, it was about in 2005 when he said before that Israel -- he would use a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. He is a genocidal mad man, and in my opinion, he should not be allowed in the United States to address the U.N. General Assembly.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, we'll continue this conversation down the road. Thanks very much for joining us. Good luck out there on the campaign trail.

BACHMANN: Thanks, Wolf. I appreciate it. 

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