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Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

By The Situation Room - November 29, 2011

BLITZER: The Republican race for the White House may be on the verge of a major shake-up, with Herman Cain now reassessing his campaign in the wake of serious allegations of an extra-marital affair.

Joining us now to talk more about that, one of Herman Cain's major Republican rivals, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Congresswoman, thanks very much for coming in.

MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wolf, always a pleasure to be with you.

Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

Herman Cain flatly denied, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday, the allegations that he did have this 13 year affair with this woman in Atlanta.

Do you believe him?

BACHMANN: Well, that's not for me to say. That's -- that's for the voters to determine and he'll have to make the determination about where he goes from here on his campaign.

BLITZER: Well, what do you think about all of these allegations?

Four other women accusing him of sexual harassment, now a fifth woman accusing him of having an extra-marital affair?

What -- what does that say about his campaign?

Put on your political pundit hat for a second.

BACHMANN: Well, I'm not a political pundit. I'm running as a candidate for the presidency of the United States. And, clearly, it's not helpful for his campaign. But he'll make that determination going forward, about whether or not he sees himself as a viable candidate.

More importantly, it's the voters that will make that decision.

BLITZER: Do you think he should drop out?

BACHMANN: That's not for me to say. He'll make that determination. I imagine it will be made fairly soon.

BLITZER: He suggested to me that maybe there's some sort of conspiracy out there, elements working to derail what he called the Cain train.

Do you believe there's some conspiracy out there to hurt him?

BACHMANN: You know, I -- I don't see a conspiracy on the horizon. But again, that will be for the voters to decide. And his campaign as he -- as you said, is reassessing where he's at. And I'm sure that they'll make a decision before too long.

BLITZER: If, in fact, he does decide to drop -- drop out -- and he says now he's reassessing his campaign. He told his supporters that, his staff that, earlier today, what would you say to those supporters of Herman Cain to -- to -- to leave Herman Cain, if he drops out, and come to Michele Bachmann?

BACHMANN: Well, I would tell them that I've been a consistent conservative from the beginning of this race. There's been no surprises with me. We actually launched a Web site called NoSurprises2012.com. You can look at a lot of the other candidates. You see a lot of inconsistencies, a lot of flipping back and forth.

You don't see that with me. I have a new book out. It's called "Core of Conviction." We just launched it this week. And what it tells people is that over the 55 years of my life, I've lived a consistent life with core principles. And I talk about who I am in an unfiltered way so that people can get a look at me in a 3D picture. It's "Core of Conviction" and I'm going across the country now to let people know, without having to go through the barrier of the media, who I am, what I stand for and what my core convictions are.

BLITZER: You're suggesting that other candidates may be flip-flopping, if you will. I think I know who you're referring to.

But let me talk about Newt Gingrich for a minute. He denies he ever supported what's called amnesty for illegal immigrants in the United States.

Let me play this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is an absolute falsehood to suggest that I favor amnesty for 11 million people period period. And anybody who says it from this point on has been served notice that they are something -- saying something which is not true, which in itself should disqualify them as a candidate the be president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You put out a press release saying he does support -- or at least he once supported amnesty.

BACHMANN: Well, his position would be inconsistent because he signed a letter that was published in "The Wall Street Journal" in 2004 saying that, in fact, he did support President Bush's comprehensive immigration reform, which was commonly known as amnesty, because what it would do is make legal 11 million illegal workers in the United States.

And he was also in support of the federal DREAM Act, which would provide taxpayer subsidies for college tuition for the children of illegal aliens.

That's just a fact. It's just on record. He may have a different position today, but even as recently as the last debate, he said that he, in fact, favored making legal illegal workers. That's -- those are two different positions and he'll have to reconcile those.

But again, those aren't the only times where he's had inconsistent positions. He came out in favor of entering into Libya in the no fly zone and he also came out later saying he was not in favor of Libya. He said he was not in favor of TARP and then he was in favor of TARP.

He was sitting on the couch with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that we needed to do something about global warming. Now, he's not so sure.

So he was also the father of the individual health care mandate and admitted as much on stage when he was questioned by Newt Gingrich. And it's highly doubtful to think that our Republican nominee could -- could have championed the individual health care mandate, have taken millions of dollars to advance that mandate and then think that they are going to actively work to repeal ObamaCare.

And he also took $1.8 million to offer influence in Washington, DC on behalf of Freddie Mac, all while I was fighting Freddie Mac and trying to put them into receivership, which is bankruptcy.

So there's been a lot of inconsistencies and that's, again, going back to my book, "Core of Conviction." I've been -- I've had, on the basis of my core of conviction, a very consistent walk and talk in Washington, DC standing up for conservative principles.

BLITZER: So who is a bigger, as they say, flip-flopper?

Would it be Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich?

BACHMANN: Well, I think both of them have a lot to talk -- to answer for to the voter on being on both sides of the issues. Governor Romney has also advocated for mandating that every citizen in the state of Massachusetts also purchase health insurance, which is exactly the same as ObamaCare and was a pattern for ObamaCare.

He's been on both sides of the abortion issue. He is -- he was for abortion. He was against abortion. He we are for same-sex marriage and, in fact, I believe had signed 189 marriage licenses for same sex couples and then came out against it.

And so on issue after issue after issue, Governor Romney has been on both sides and Speaker Gingrich has to answer for that, as well. BLITZER: Let me ask you about an upcoming vote you probably are going to have to take in the House of Representatives that would effectively raise taxes on the middle class. If you don't vote to extend the payroll -- the payroll tax cut, the $1,000 for each family that would end at the end of the year unless you vote to continue it.

Where will you vote on this issue?

BACHMANN: Well, I won't be voting to continue the -- the current payroll tax rate at where it's at right now. And I'll tell you why. I was against this. The bill first came up last December. And I was against it because it blew a hole in the Social Security Trust Fund of $111 billion this year. That's a massive hole at the worst possible time.

We have to continue to keep our promise with senior citizens. We have to continue to set out -- send out the checks that they have been promised.

When we blow a hole in that account of $111 billion, we don't have the money in the general revenue to make that up...

BLITZER: But let me interrupt for a second, Congresswoman...

BACHMANN: We also...

BLITZER: -- you -- you...

BACHMANN: -- let me...

BLITZER: -- you've pledged...

BACHMANN: Let me just mention one more...

BLITZER: Well, you -- you mentioned this...

BACHMANN: Let me just mention one...

BLITZER: -- let me just...

BACHMANN: -- let me mention one...

BLITZER: -- let me just -- go ahead.

BACHMANN: -- more thing about that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes.

BACHMANN: I just want to mention one more thing. President Obama's own economic adviser has said that not one job has been creating because of lowering that payroll tax deduction. That's -- that's why President Obama -- or the payroll rate.

That's why President Obama wanted to put it in in the first place. That was his reasoning. He said it would create millions of jobs. Even his own adviser has said it hasn't created jobs. Therefore, there is no basis to continue it at that rate.

BLITZER: All right. But doesn't it help middle class families?

A thousand dollars a year?

That's a lot of money for a lot of families. And -- and wouldn't this violate your pledge never to increase taxes because, in effect, what you would be doing by voting against a continuation of this, you would be increasing taxes on almost every family in America.

BACHMANN: Well, again, I didn't vote for this measure in the first place. So I wouldn't be inconsistent at all, because I was the one sounding the warning bell with my own Republican colleagues, saying, look, if you go along with this -- and I urged them not to -- I said if you go along with this, you will blow a hole in the Trust Fund of $111 billion. And I told them, you will also be accused of raising taxes on the middle class, which I don't think any of you want to be in that position for doing. so I was the one sounding the trumpet about a year ago on this issue, saying don't fall for what President Obama is putting forward, it's not going to help the economy. It didn't. And it's also going to hurt senior citizens.

So I'm -- I -- I was right on this issue before. And as president of the United States, what I will do is abolish the tax code and lower people's tax rates so that people are paying something much more fairer than what they're paying now...

BLITZER: All right.

BACHMANN: -- the tax code isn't fair. It's not flat. And I want to -- I want to completely change the tax code. I'm a tax lawyer and that's my area of expertise.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break and continue this conversation, Congresswoman.

I've got a lot more questions to ask.

Standing by for a moment.

BACHMANN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Much more with Michele Bachmann when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're continuing our conversation with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a Republican presidential candidate.

If you were president, Congresswoman, right now, given the state of U.S.-Pakistani relations in the aftermath of the killing of some 24 Pakistani soldiers over the weekend by NATO troops, what would you do to try to create a better climate between these two countries? BACHMANN: Well, it's a very difficult relationship, at best, that we've had with Pakistan. It's not a perfect actor nor a perfect partnership.

This -- what we're engaged in right now is the concern of Pakistan obtaining and having nuclear weapons, well over 100 of them. And we're worried about those weapons either, A, being interdicted or obtained by radical jihadists. We know that al Qaeda is present in Pakistan. Other terrorist militia groups are, as well.

But we're also concerned, Wolf, about nuclear weapons leaving Pakistan and coming into the United States as well as fissile material. That can never happen.

And so we have to work with the Pakistanis, as imperfect as they are, to make sure that we don't have jihadists that can be successful in reaching their goal.

There are at least 15 different sites that have been identified -- this is open source documents. You can find it in "The Atlantic" magazine, in the December issue. At least 15 different sites that are potentially penetrable by Islamic jihadists. And six attempts have already been made. This is not an existential threat. This is a real threat. And this is something that we have to continue to pay attention to, because as the article says, Pakistan is too nuclear to fail. We cannot allow nuclear weapons to travel into the hands of Islamic terrorists.

BLITZER: And when you say six attempts, who -- who were behind those six attempts to penetrate those Pakistani nuclear arsenals?

BACHMANN: Well, according to the -- to the article, it is elements of militia, jihadist groups and terrorist organizations.

BLITZER: Al Qaeda, Taliban, the Haqqani network?

Do you have -- I mean I know you're a member of the Intelligence Committee and you're restricted in what you can say based on classified information.

But based on what you can tell us, can you give us some more information on that, because it really jumped out at me at the debate the other night?

BACHMANN: Oh, I think, again, I'd refer people to go to the article with -- a very well written, very well researched article that is in this December's issue of "The Atlantic." And I think that it lays out the clear threats that we face. And it's a challenge. It's not an easy puzzle to solve.

We have to do a better job of holding the Pakistanis accountable. And we can do that, also, with the form of aid. And it's really security assistance that we're providing to Pakistan. We're working on counter- terrorism tactics and we're also dealing with intelligence gathering. And that's something that we need to continue to do.

This benefits Pakistan as well as the United States. And it's -- it's for their benefit, as well...

BLITZER: All right...

BACHMANN: -- to be cooperative, to try to oppose al Qaeda in their midst.

BLITZER: One quick final question.

You -- it's caused a big uproar out there. When you were on Jimmy Fallon's late night show the other night, you were introduced -- I'll play the clip -- and a song with an awful name was played. I don't even know if you knew what that song was when you walked out.

But let me just remind the viewers of the scene.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON," COURTESY NBC)

JIMMY FALLON, HOST: Please welcome to the show, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Did you know what that song was?

BACHMANN: I had absolutely no idea. In fact, I didn't even know until later in the day, just before I had come on CNN for the debate with you, Wolf, it was shortly before that that I even heard about what had happened and I was appalled that a group would do that to a serious Republican presidential candidate.

And what struck me is has it -- had it been Michelle Obama that had walked out on the stage rather than Michele Bachmann, I think that there would have been a very different reaction from NBC. I think the president of NBC would have gone crawling and begged for forgiveness and they probably would have fired the band.

And the job situation is so bad, I'm not calling on anyone to be fired, but I think it would have been appropriate for the president of NBC to issue an apology.

It wasn't Jimmy Fallon's fault. He had called immediately and said that he was horrified when he heard about it and that he had no prior knowledge. And I believe him. He asked me to come back on a show. And, of course, I'd be delighted to. He's a great late night host.

This is an error in judgment on -- on the part of the band. And I think that, really, it's NBC's responsibility.

BLITZER: Michele Bachmann, as usual, thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

BACHMANN: Thank you, Wolf. 

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