Interview with Representative Michele Bachmann

Interview with Representative Michele Bachmann

By The Situation Room - April 26, 2012

BLITZER: Despite growing concerns in Israel and around the world that Iran could be on the brink of producing a nuclear bomb, the top Israeli general is now reportedly suggesting just the opposite and it's raising some serious eyebrows including right here in Washington.

And Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is here, the former Republican presidential candidate, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and I want to get to some of the missions you've been on lately, but your quick reaction to what we are now hearing from the Israeli military's chief of staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz quoted in Israeli newspapers as saying this about Iran and its nuclear weapons ambitions.

"Iran is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn't yet decided whether to go the extra mile. I don't think -- and he's referring to the Ayatollah -- he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people." Do you agree with that assessment based on everything you're hearing?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINNESOTA: I don't. I don't agree with that assessment at all. I had Michael Oren, the ambassador, in my office yesterday --

BLITZER: The Israeli ambassador --

BACHMANN: I had him in my office yesterday. I traveled to Israel to meet with the Prime Minister Netanyahu to talk about the situation with Iran and ironically the night that I was flying into Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv there were 110 rockets that were sent in to Gaza and the Iron Dome was deployed. That doesn't happen very often.

And the good news is that when the dome was deployed there wasn't one Israeli that lost their life, but what it showed is that this is a very real, persistent threat that Israel faces. There's never a time when Israel does not face a threat, but I think that people on the ground in Israel recognize that Iran has only had one ambition and that is to develop a nuclear weapon and use it against Israel. BLITZER: Because what General Gantz seems to be saying -- he seems to be on a different page than the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is that the Iranians have not yet decided to go ahead and build a nuclear bomb, that they're very rational and they're considering all of this deliberately and there seems to be no rush, at least on his part, to take action.

BACHMANN: I don't see that this is rational what Iran is doing, but I also think that we also recognize that Iran is not going to publish a memo when they make the decision to go to nuclear weapon capability. They will not be posting it so no one will know when they actually do. That's Israel's conundrum. That's their problem. They can't wait until Iran is already nuclear weapon capable because there is no reaction time on Israel's part.

Israel has to have the right to create survival for itself. That's really where they're at right now. We're in a very difficult place. I don't think Israel wants to in any way have to attack Iran, but it's very clear Iran hasn't taken any steps -- this is easy to solve, honestly. It's easy to solve. Iran just has to surrender their enriched uranium. They have to stop and cease all production of enriched uranium. They need to dismantle some of their nuclear weapons facilities and have continuous open doors on inspections. Do that and the rest of the world will supply any medical isotopes they want for cancer research -- done.

BLITZER: Let's move on to another issue. Afghanistan right now, you were recently on a congressional delegation that went to Afghanistan. One of the members, Dana Rohrabacher, the congressman from California, he was here in THE SITUATION ROOM with me this week. He was prevented from going to Afghanistan, a country that receives billions of dollars in U.S. assistance. Hamid Karzai doesn't like him. First of all your reaction to Hamid Karzai's decision not to let a Democratically- elected member of the United States Congress to visit his country.

BACHMANN: It was preposterous especially when you consider that he receives about $l1 billion from the allies that are helping him and his country right now out of something over 12 billion --

BLITZER: He didn't meet with you when you were there, Hamid Karzai, did he?

BACHMANN: He did not and our --

BLITZER: Was that a snub?

BACHMANN: We had -- well I don't -- that would be -- Louie Gomez (ph) was the one in charge of the delegation.

BLITZER: The congressman.

BACHMANN: He was in charge of our delegation and we had a mission. We had a threefold mission, to visit our constituents who are soldiers on the ground to assess the current situation in Afghanistan and third to meet with the Northern Alliance. It was unfortunate what Karzai did. BLITZER: By not allowing Dana Rohrabacher to come in --

BACHMANN: By not allowing him in --

BLITZER: Was it -- what was your reaction when you heard that the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton and the secretary of defense, Leon Panetta said that he shouldn't go at this time and a U.S. military plane that was waiting in Dubai to fly you, the congressional delegation and him to Kabul, wouldn't take off if he were on the plane.

BACHMANN: That's right and we thought it was preposterous and outrageous. We felt that the defense secretary and the secretary of state should stand by the members of Congress as opposed to standing by Karzai --

BLITZER: Why did you go? Your fellow members, why didn't you say, you know what, if Dana Rohrabacher isn't going I'm not going either.

BACHMANN: Well there are two reasons. First of all, we had our mission which was to visit the constituents, meet with General Allen. General Allen was in my office six weeks ago and invited me to come to Afghanistan, so I came at his request and number three was to meet with the Northern Alliance. We decided that we could continue that mission and succeed in the mission. Dana did not want to be an impediment. There's one other piece, Wolf, though that you left out and it's this. Ryan Crocker, our ambassador who I can't say enough good about and also General Allen, they were in the process, particularly Ambassador Crocker, he was -- at 11:59 and 59 seconds on negotiating the deal for handing off the baton for leadership in Iran from ISF, the International Security Forces to the Afghans to be able to run this conflict on their own and defeat the Taliban.

This agreement was completed while we were there. We did not, in any way, want to turn an international incident into preventing this agreement from being signed. This was months in the making, and so we didn't want to be the ones that would prevent this from happening. Over this weekend, Wolf, I stood over the bed in ICU unit of a soldier who lost his legs due to an explosion just a couple of hours earlier. We are not willing to let one more soldier lose their legs or lose their life because we started an international incident. We think Karzai was wrong. We think Secretary of State -- Panetta and Hillary Clinton could have done a better job in how they handled it, but at the same time we did not want our actions to prevent this agreement from being signed and I want to give kudos to Ryan Crocker, who went to hell and back to get this agreement signed. He did a wonderful job negotiating the terms.

BLITZER: We're out of time -- one quick political question. Why haven't you endorsed Mitt Romney yet?

BACHMANN: Well I've said all along that I will we be backing our party's nominee --

BLITZER: You haven't yet.

BACHMANN: -- and I will happily do that.


BACHMANN: What I'm doing is working behind the scenes bringing together all factions of our party. Don't forget, when there was the dust up between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama there were 18 million women who had backed Hillary Clinton. They wanted no part of backing Barack Obama. It took time to get them to come over. I'm working behind the scenes to knit together the Tea Party, the evangelicals to come together with the conservatives and back our nominee --

BLITZER: He's the leader of the Republicans right now, Mitt Romney, right?

BACHMANN: Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee right now.

BLITZER: So you want him to beat President Obama.

BACHMANN: Of course.

BLITZER: Why don't you just say I endorse him?

BACHMANN: Well of course that will all come --

BLITZER: What are you waiting for --

BACHMANN: You just want me to do it on your show, that's the thing.

BLITZER: Yes, I do --

BACHMANN: That's the thing and so it will happen --


BACHMANN: It's just not going happen right now on your show.

BLITZER: I only want you to do it if you want to do it. It's a free country, but what I hear you saying you're not yet ready to say I'm endorsing Mitt Romney, but you will at some point.

BACHMANN: Well as the line says in the "Wizard of Oz", all in good time, my pretty. It will happen.

BLITZER: Michele Bachmann, as usual thanks for coming in.

BACHMANN: Thank you. 

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