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Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

By The Situation Room - November 17, 2011

BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in Iowa yesterday. She's clearly ratcheting up the rhetoric against some of her opponents out there on the campaign trial in an effort to win a much needed boost in the polls. Congresswoman Bachman is joining us now, live. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

BACHMANN: Thank you, Wolf. It's always a pleasure.

BLITZER: I've known you for some time and I know you're a tough woman. How did you feel when you heard Herman Cain describe you, he was asked to describe a flavor of ice cream he would use for you, "tutti-frutti."

BACHMANN: Honestly, I didn't give it a second thought. I'm running to be the commander in chief and the leader of the free world, so that's what I'm focused on. It really didn't faze me at all.

BLITZER: Do you think his campaign because of all the sexual harassment allegations, that stumble in Milwaukee, some of the other issues, is Herman Cain's campaign imploding?

BACHMANN: That will be for the voters to decide. I think what people are looking at is which candidate is prepared and ready to lead. And as we saw from the foreign policy debate last Saturday night on CBS, it's clear that the next president of the United States needs to be ready from day one, because the next president will be tested almost immediately on foreign policy.

Of all of the candidates that are running in the race, I am the one currently involved in this issue. I sit on the House intelligence committee. We deal with the nation's classified secrets. And so with the threats that come to the United States, both externally and internally and this is something that I have to be conversant with all the time.

It isn't that I know everything. No one possibly can. But this is what I deal with and next president as commander in chief be prepared from day one to deal with these issues, especially with a nuclear Iran and the problems and volatility that there is in the Middle East region.

BLITZER: But Jon Huntsman is a former ambassador to China, so he's obviously well versed on a lot of these national security issues as well, isn't he?

BACHMANN: He's well versed on China, that's true. But I am the only one that is currently involved in the intelligence community, and intelligence is where it's at right now, because our intelligence community is second to none. They're marvelous. They deal with interrogation, detention, rendition. And this is an area that we have to, our commander in chief has to know something about and they have to be prepared to make decisions.

It's one thing to have advisers, but it's another to be the commander in chief. Ultimately the commander in chief makes that decision. And in particular, our nominee has to be able to be conversant and be able to debate with President Obama on the stage, on this issue. It's not like we can poll the audience or ask for a lifeline when it comes to the foreign policy debates with President Obama.

I am capable of standing on the stage toe to toe with the president of the United States and holding him accountable for his disastrous foreign policy, his failures. And really his administration best summed up their foreign policy, which is leading from behind when it came to Libya. But they've led from behind on so many other areas as well.

And that's what I look forward to doing, demonstrating the difference in foreign policy and how this president of the United States has put the United States in a disastrous position.

BLITZER: A couple of questions on that. First of all, Mitt Romney, is he ready to debate the president of the United States in your opinion?

BACHMANN: I believe that I am ready to debate the president of the United States because of my background that I've had on the intelligence committee, but also just the familiarity I have with the issues. And this is something that's the next president of the United States will have to deal with. BLITZER: When you say the president with his policy in Libya leading from behind as it was dubbed, but in the end, it did work. Gadhafi is gone. There's a new Libya. Didn't that strategy that he put in place work with the NATO allies?

BACHMANN: You know, I oppose the president going into Libya. I still oppose the president going into Libya because, after all, it was his own defense secretary who said there was no clear American vital interest in Libya. Why were we there? If there's no clear, identifiable American interest, we had no business being there.

Also, he went on to say there was no mission for us either in Libya. If we don't have a clear identifiable mission, we have no business being there. The president said we were going into Libya for humanitarian purposes, but quite clearly it wasn't humanitarian purposes. It was for regime change, and that's what the president was going for.

Today Libya, the announcement was made they will be operating under Sharia law. If that is so, there are unforeseen consequences that could come from that decision by those who are in charge. But the problem is, no one really knows who's in charge in Libya today. There's militias that are going after one another even street to street, city to city. That leadership hasn't yet been fully determined and we don't know who that will be. It's chaos in Libya now. It's not certainty.

And so the snapshot in time is not one that bodes well for the future. And of course, the president is responsible for the MANPADS that went missing. Some estimates up to 20,000 MANPADS have gone missing, potentially chemical weapons. If that's so, those are shoulder-fired missiles. They are small enough to be thrown in the back of a car and they can be used to bring down a commercial airliner. The president of the United States, President Obama, has to answer for that.

BLITZER: But I just want to be clear, you're happy Gadhafi is gone, right?

BACHMANN: Well, I think everyone is happy that Gadhafi is gone. I'm certainly no fan of Muammar Gadhafi. But he wasn't an immediate threat to the United States when Barack Obama went into Libya. So the result of that has been we don't know who will be in charge. We don't know what type of chaos will ensue. There continues to be a lot of trouble in Libya.

But even more importantly, we have the MANPADS that have gone missing and potentially chemical weapons as well. This is a very real threat if we have a commercial airliner or a military airliner come down as a result of one of those MANPADS, that will l be a disastrous consequence for the president's failed decision to go into Libya.

BLITZER: And MANPADS --

BACHMANN: And he did it without Congressional approval.

BLITZER: -- shoulder fired missiles. Let me get a quick thought from you on Newt Gingrich. Should he release all the documentation about receiving as much as $1.8 million from Freddie Mac?

BACHMANN: Well, you all have to decide that. I just know there's a distinct difference, because I have spent my time fighting against Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and I fought to have them put into receivership rather than conservatorship. Receivership is an orderly winding down in a bankruptcy.

If you look at this last quarter, what a disaster. They were over $7 billion in bankrupt, or in need of a bailout from the taxpayers. The other one was over $6 billion in need of a bailout, and we just had the executives go before Congress and justify that they gave themselves, the top 10 executives, over $12 million, almost $13 million in bonuses.

Now, where's the president of the United States on this? Where's President Obama? Since when do we award bonuses with taxpayer money to people who have to go to the federal government for bailouts? This is a disaster. This is the kind of thing that the Occupy Wall Street forerunners went out to the executives' homes who were getting bailouts on Wall Street. Where's Occupy Wall Street? Why aren't they outraged about this? Why aren't they protesting this? This is exactly what we shouldn't see in the United States.

And that's why I'm calling for Freddie and Fannie to go into bankruptcy and an orderly winding down. We need to have other companies in the free market come up and take their place. They're absolute failures and they need to go into bankruptcy.

BLITZER: A quick follow-up. Some Democrats are saying Gingrich should return that $1.6 million to $1.8 million to the federal government. Should he?

BACHMANN: Well, this may be an ongoing issue and an ongoing question and one that the former speaker will have to address. But again, my response has been to fight Freddie and fight Fannie. They've been, they're government sponsored entities, but today they're practically holding owned subsidiaries of the federal government.

The problem is, for the taxpayers, if they go out to get a home loan today, almost 90 percent plus of homes are financed by the federal government. This is going in the wrong direction. We want to market to prevail in housing. We don't want the federal government backing up housing loans. The federal government already has more than it can possibly have on its plate. We can't afford this. We need to get out of this failed industry and shut it down as quickly as we possibly can. Secondary mortgage companies will rise up in the private market. We need to get the federal government out.

BLITZER: Michele Bachmann, as usual, thanks very much for coming in. We'll continue this conversation. Good luck on the campaign trial. 

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