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Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

Interview with Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann

By John King, USA - December 7, 2011

KING: Michele Bachmann was an early surprise in the Republican presidential race, riding strong performances in an Iowa straw poll and in the early debates into a top-tier spot in the polls.

But she has faded dramatically since. Look at this. In our new CNN/"TIME" Iowa poll out tonight, Congresswoman Bachmann is in fifth place with support from just 7 percent of likely caucus goers. And our new numbers from the first four states on the Republican calendar reinforce her recent struggles, fifth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire, fourth in South Carolina, but with just 6 percent in support, and fourth in Florida as well, but with just 3 percent of the likely Republican vote.

Can the conservative and Tea Party favorite turn things around?

Congresswoman Bachmann nice enough to be with us tonight.

It's good to see you.

That is a fundamental question. We're less than four weeks from Iowa voting. If you come in fifth percent -- fifth place in Iowa, is that the end?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, in every race I have ever had, people have always said she's never going to do it, she's never going to win, and I have won. They have all been nightmare races, but I have ended up winning.

People said I couldn't win the Iowa straw poll. I won. I think we're going to be surprised on January 3, because this has actually been a political Wall Street, where you see one candidate up and then down. We think we're perfectly poised to be in the top spot by January 3.

KING: You believe you can win Iowa?

BACHMANN: Oh, I think that we can. And that's what we're intending to do.

KING: But where is your line if you don't? Is it top three, continue? If you're in fourth or fifth, is that the end?

BACHMANN: Well, that is what the media is concerned with. We aren't. We are concerned with winning. And so we're focused on the shift. And the deck reshuffled this weekend on Saturday with Herman Cain, and now we're seeing dramatic support switching over, so we're excited.

KING: You can tell from your comments in recent days, getting tougher about Speaker Gingrich and Governor Romney, that you seem surprised that a year after the Tea Party made its name, that you have these two conservatives, yes, but not what you describe, I think, as Tea Party grassroots conservatives, at top of the pack.

I want you to listen to something you said just yesterday on FOX.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: They're the great pretenders right now, because they're trying to pretend, and talk, and walk like they're conservatives, when they hardly have a conservative record and they have a serious problem on Obamacare, among a lot of other issues. So, it's -- they were the father and the grandfather of the Obamacare legislation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: There have been debate after debate after debate after debate. The candidates have been to Iowa, in Governor Romney's case, more to New Hampshire.

The voters have had a lot of chances to look at these candidates, to hear them, to hear the critiques like that in the debates in the back and forth. And yet Speaker Gingrich now by far leading the pack in the polls, and Governor Romney by far in second place in the polls.

The voters disagree with you, don't they, about the great pretenders?

BACHMANN: This isn't over by a long shot. We have 70 percent of the American people who are unsure, and they're paying attention, they're dialing in now. They're looking to see who is the true core conservative in this race.

There's no political surprises with me, absolutely none. And people want to know who their champion will be and who can debate Barack Obama and take him on. I can shred his radical policies in the debate. And I have proved myself. And I will be the best one to defeat him in 2012.

KING: To what you do attribute the success of Newt?

BACHMANN: Well, it's because he's very good at co-opting the conservative language. And he's using that conservative language, but his record completely belies his language.

No one has been more the epitome of a Washington, D.C., insider than Newt Gingrich. He's taken over $100 million for influence peddling in Washington, D.C. His office is located on the Rodeo Drive of Washington, which is K Street. And he's taken over $1.6 million to influence senior Republicans to keep the big mess at Freddie Mac going. I was trying to shut it down.

On a whole host of issues, he's wrong on immigration; he's wrong on global warming. He was wrong on the $700 billion bailout. He was wrong on Libya. On issue after issue, his positions have hardly been conservative. He's had more in common with Barack Obama than he has with the conservatives. That's not what we can have for our nominee.

KING: Let's talk about the president. He gave a big speech in Kansas yesterday, and it's a defining speech, the White House says. And I'll give the president this one. I think he was exactly right. Not my job to pick the prescriptions but on setting out the defining challenge of our time, he said, was helping the middle class actually think, if you work hard and play by the rules, you can do better.

Of course, he thinks your party has it wrong. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We simply cannot return to this brand of "you're on your own" economics if we're serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: I want to go through two things here you said. In August, in front of a Tea Party crowd in South Carolina, you said, "We do believe, unlike Warren Buffett, that taxes are high enough already," meaning don't raise taxes.

You told the Associated Press on November 7, "I think that people who can afford to pay more need to pay more." Which is it?

BACHMANN: Well, what it is, is growing the economy. And what I said by that is I intend to abolish the tax code. I'm a federal tax litigation attorney, and what I want to do is abolish the tax code.

And I'm saying that, if you are middle class or lower middle class -- people who are upper income need to pay at least the same rate as people who are middle or lower. They can't pay less.

Today we have unequal rates, and people who are wealthier, sometimes are getting away with paying less because the tax code is all about special interests. And what I want to do is have the tax code apply the same to everyone. That's very different.

I want a tax code that's going to have equal treatment under the law. That's not what we have today.

What Barack Obama is calling for is more intervention by government in the economy. He doesn't know how to grow the economy. He doesn't know how to create jobs. I do. I'm a job creator myself. I'm a successful private businesswoman and I'm a trial lawyer -- a federal trial lawyer on taxes. I get what we need to do on changing the economy, and that's what I'll do.

KING: I want to play this video. It's now received more than 2.4 million hits on YouTube.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mommy is gay, but she doesn't need any fixing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Take me back to that moment. The little boy said, "My mom is gay, but she doesn't need any fixing."

BACHMANN: Well, I just wrote a brand-new book called "Core of Conviction." And I've been having book signings and wonderfully attended. And a woman came up with a little boy who looked to be about 8 years of age, and he was whispering to me. I couldn't hear him. I leaned down closer. I still couldn't hear him. I leaned down even closer.

This little boy was looking down at his toes. He obviously didn't want to say what he was put up to say. And I just think it's reprehensible when someone uses a little child to advance a political agenda. That's what was going on at that book signing. I'd never do that to one of my children, and it's really unfortunate that this poor little boy was used in that way.

KING: What's your message to him and his mom, then?

BACHMANN: My message is that I -- I believe in equal treatment for all Americans, and I think that's what we need to have and respect for each other. I think that family is very important.

And I am very unashamed. I believe that we should all be allowed to have our opinions respected. And I stand for marriage, and marriage between a man and a woman.

KING: Congresswoman, thanks for your time.

BACHMANN: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you. 

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