Bachmann sticks to her guns, says Paul lured Sorenson with cash (audio)

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann just held a news conference in Des Moines (in the parking lot of WHO Radio).  She is sticking with her story that state Senator Kent Sorenson was offered money by Ron Paul’s campaign to leave his role as chairman for Bachmann’s Iowa campaign and to join his effort quite publicly last night with an endorsement at a rally in Des Moines.

AUDIO of Bachmann’s news conference.  (The questions about the flap start at 8 minute mark.)

Bachmann said she had a conversation by phone with Sorenson on Tuesday. Here’s what Bachmann told reporters this morning:

“I had a conversation with Kent Sorenson and in the direct conversation that I had with him he told me that he was offered money. He was offered a lot of money by the Ron Paul campaign to go and associate with the Ron Paul campaign. No one else knows about that conversation other than Kent Sorenson and myself and I know what he said to me about that.

“…Clearly what that reflected was the nervousness on the part of the Ron Paul campaign that they were losing steam in Iowa, they were losing momentum in Iowa because Iowans’ eyes were opening up. They understood not only was Ron Paul dangerous when it came to foreign policy, but they’re understanding now that Ron Paul would be willing to legalize drugs in the United States, including heroin and cocaine. Iowans don’t want that. 

“…Yesterday I was with Kent Sorenson. He talked to a number of people on our campaign. He told a number of people on our campaign — there’s a list an arm long of people that he spoke to who said he apologized to me for considering leaving. He said that he would be staying. He was with me at our campaign stop in Indianola. He told all of our campaign that he was definitely on board and then he got in his car and he went and announced that he was going with the Ron Paul campaign, but he had told me specifically that he was offered money, a great deal of money by the Ron Paul campaign, and that’s why he was leaving.”

Several reporters asked, “How much money?” and Bachmann said: “I direct you to go to the Ron Paul campaign and talk to them.”

It’s unclear whether Wes Enos, Bachmann’s political director, is still with the campaign. Enos issued a statement last night, under Ron Paul campaign letterhead, saying Sorenson was not leaving for money. I asked Bachmann’s new Iowa campaign chair, state Senator Brad Zaun, as he got on the Bachmann bus is Enos was still on board the Bachmann campaign. “I don’t have a statement for the media,” Zaun said.

Holy cow! Bachmann’s Iowa chair now supporting Ron Paul! (AUDIO)

The biggest news of the political day in Iowa just happened. State Senator Kent Sorenson, a Republican from Indianola, has served as Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chair for nearly a year.  He is no longer serving in that role.  Sorenson just announced he is backing Ron Paul now.  (I’ll be back with the audio in a moment. Here’s the AUDIO of Sorenson’s brief remarks.) “When the Republican establishment is going to be coming after Ron Paul, I thought it is my duty to come to his aid,” Sorenson said, mentioning that Paul had campaigned on his (Sorenson’s) behalf for his state senate campaign.

Sorenson, as you may recall, is the person involved in the backstoryof Bob Vander Plaats’ endorsement of Rick Santorum.  Sorenson was said to have threatened to burn BVP in effigy for failing to endorse Bachmann.  The account came from Chuck Hurley, leader of The Iowa Family Policy Center:

“…I do regret that one erstwhile friend and culture warrior has threatened to, ‘Burn Bob’s body, drag it through the streets and hang it from a bridge,’ if Bob doesn’t endorse who that person wants him to endorse,” Hurley said. “Unfortunately, this individual claims to follow the ‘good book’ which says things like, ‘Let all anger, bitterness and malice be put away from you.’”

Hurley, as you may know, endorsed Santorum, too.

Soon after Ron Paul took the stage tonight, a couple of “Occupy Wall Street” protesters started yelling in the hall.

“Freedom of speech! Ain’t it wonderful,” Paul said.  “…We’re all upset and we want a change in Washington. As a matter of fact, that’s what our purpose is.”   The protesters were escorted out.

Bachmann says Paul’s foreign policy views “a total disqualifer” (AUDIO)

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann just appeared on KSCJ (Keep Sioux City Jumpin’) Radio this morning.  She had a brief conversation with host Sam Clovis. Clovis was offering his critique of Paul’s foreign policy views, as expressed last night during the debate, and Bachmann said Paul’s views are a “total disqualifier” for the presidency.  Listen to the brief, 30-seconds-worth of AUDIO of that particular exchange. Here’s a partial transcript:

Clovis: “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing last night.”
Bachmann: “It was unbelievable…It’s a total disqualifier as far as I’m concerned…This is so off-base and this isn’t just one thing. This is all foreign policy. I could not disagree with Ron Paul more.”

Sioux City Debate Part II: Freddie & Fannie, Newt & Michele

Ron Paul made the point he made in the last debate, saying “to go to work (for Freddie Mac) and get money from them, it’s literally coming from the taxpayer,” but Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann mixed it up pretty furiously in the second segment of tonight’s debate. 

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“It’s like having the snot beat out of you”

Michele Bachmann was just the guest on a Conversations with the Candidates series Des Moines Register columnist Kathie Obradovich is hosting (it will air on Iowa Public Television).  Obradovich asked Bachmann what had been the most difficult thing about the campaign.

Bachmann’s answer: “It’s the fact that we work nearly every day about 18 hours a day and that’s a relentless pace to keep up, but I defend the process…Someone said it’s like having the snot beat out of you every day and honestly, I defend that. It’s good because we are vying to be the next leader of the free world. Being president of the United States is a tough job. I’m up for it.”

Group of pastors calls Bachmann a “Biblically-qualified” leader (audio)

“We come here this morning to ask Christians across Iowa to support Michele Bachmann…We have determined that Michele Bachmann is Biblically-qualified to be the president, to be a leader. She is capable. She is trustworthy. She fears God and she hates dishonest gain.” — Danny Carroll, 12.13.11

Former State Rep. Danny Carroll of Grinnell

A group of pastors, plus former State Representative Danny Carroll of Grinnell, publicly endorsed GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann this morning.

Carroll, the former Speaker Pro Tem, was the #3 Republican in the Iowa House.  He also was a leading voice in the 2010 campaign to vote three Iowa Supreme Court justices off the court.  Carroll used to be on The Family Leader’s board of directors, but he left that post about a year ago.  He’s been a private contractor, serving as the group’s lobbyist at the statehouse.  AUDIO of the news conference runs 20 minutes.

“It’s time to decide,” Carroll said to open the press conference, praising Bachmann’s “no-compromise” attitude. Carroll and the group of pastors will travel the state for three days to hold news conferences to explain their endorsement.

“Frankly, we’re looking to shake things up a little bit,” he said.

Bachmann smacks Gingrich, Romney, on health insurance mandate

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann spoke this afternoon to about 300 employees at Nationwide Insurance in Des Moines, and she rapped both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for supporting a health insurance mandate.

Bachmann said President Obama’s health care reform law will have “terrible effects on the fabric of our nation,” but she specifically talked about the individual mandate as “beginning to do great harm to the United States’ economy.”

Bachmann’s hit at Newt & Mitt:

“This is just for point of clarity. I’m not here to speak ill of any of the candidates in the race, but just for the sake of the history of this issue I’m telling you this, in 1993, another Republican, Newt Gingrich, got behind this idea of forcing all Americans to buy health insurance and he said, ‘I am for people having health insurance and being required to have health insurance.’ That’s what the struggled was back in 1993.  The American people were so upset about this, they made a decision they didn’t want socialized medicine which was what was being proposed and it was rejected.

“…Even as recently as May of this year Newt Gingrich also said that he believed all Americans should be forced to have to purchase a health insurance policy. We need to look very clearly at what this means for all of us.  We’ve seen the model play out already. We’ve seen it played out in Massachusetts where Mitt Romney was the governor. They put this system in place. What did this mean?  The system in Massachusetts meant that health insurance policies went up dramatically for the people in Massachusetts. In fact, a new survey that was released by the Massachusetts Medical Society revealed that fewer than half of the state’s primary care practices today accept new patients. It’s down from 70 percent in 2007 before the mandate for health care came into effect. This is what we need to know. It isn’t as though we were blind, not knowing what these policies would mean in the future. We had Massachusetts to look at…The average wait time now in Massachusetts for a routine check up with an internist is 48 days…and it takes 41 days now to see an OB/GYN.  This is something that we need to think about very clearly, about who will be the person to actually get rid of ObamaCare.

“When I was in Washington watching this coming down the pike, I knew what this was going to mean for America. I knew that it was going to mean a spike in increased costs and I knew it was going to mean a diminution in the quality in the amount of health care that would be available to the American people and that’s what we’ve seen already.”

Iowa Tea Party activist to Bachmann payroll

You may have heard of Ryan Rhodes, an Iowa Tea Party activist.  He got Governor Branstad’s attention this fall on a proposal to hike the state gas tax.  Last January he estimated perhaps “tens of thousands” of the Iowans who’ll participate in the 2012 Iowa Caucuses will be Tea Party people. Rhodes publicly announced he would vote for Michele Bachmann in the Iowa Straw Poll this past August.  Now, he’s working on Bachmann’s campaign.  Details, in the form of a campaign news release, below:

Urbandale, Iowa – The Bachmann for President campaign announced today that Tea Party activist Ryan Rhodes has been named Tea Party Outreach Director. Rhodes joins the growing Bachmann team in Iowa, which is building momentum heading into the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.

“I’m excited to join Michele Bachmann in helping organize Tea Party coalition efforts. We must have someone who keeps our issues on the table against Barack Obama,” Rhodes said. “As someone who has worked to advance a set of constitutional principles, I believe Congresswoman Bachmann represents the solution as someone who has stood with us in the nation’s capitol and will continue to fight for those principles of limited constitutional government in the White House.”

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Bachmann bashes crony capitalism

During a speech in Ames over the noon hour, GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann criticized what she called the “Bernie Madoff-style of government” and crony capitalism.  Over 150 people, many Iowa State University students with pads and pens taking notes, were gathered to hear Bachmann speak.

“For your sake and for your future, America — and Occupy Wall Street in particular — needs to wake up and stop blaming the free market, stop blaming capitalism, stop blaming job creators for the failures created by selfish politicians…who wink at their political donors,” Bachmann said, accusing politicians of aiding big corporations that try “through the force of law (to) put their competitors out of business….Politicians assure their friends that with government’s financial backing, their businesses will never fail. 

“It happens every day, and it has to stop because we are not a Banana Republic…we’re the United States of America and we need to act like it.”

Bachmann criticized “a lot of Republicans….including President Bush” for supporting the Wall Street bailout. Bachmann also mentioned former New Jersey Governor John Corzine, an Obama backer who has been a major Wall Street figure with MF Global.  “What they bet is that bailouts would go on forever, but they don’t,” Bachmann said, saying Corzine “went too far.”

Bachmann also said the Post Office is “billions of dollars in the red” and unwilling to “look at their real problem” which she said was “unrealistically high” wage and benefit costs.  

“The Obama way has brought economic misery…government intervention leads ultimately to poverty,” she said. 

Bachmann outlined her tax reform plan and concluded her speech at about 12:42 p.m.  There was applause when Bachmann began and applause when she ended, but not during the speech.  She then took questions from the crowd.

Bachmann: “You can count on me.” (audio)

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is putting herself forward as an alternative to rival Herman Cain, who is dealing with a crisis these days. Bachmann spoke at a “tele-town hall” this afternoon with members of the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Restaurant Association (which Cain used to lead; it’s during his tenure there that the allegations of sexual harassment were made), the National Association of Home Builders and the Associated Builders and Contractors. In the course of a 45 minute call, Bachmann used the phrase “core of conviction” five different times to describe herself, never once referring to her “titanium spine” as had been her habit since June. ( BTW: “Core of Conviction” is the title of Bachmann’s soon-to-be-released book.)

About 38 minutes into the call, she was directly asked about Cain.  The question came from Bill Shaw of Houston, Texas, a member of the National Association of Home Builders. “I’m really concerned with the Republican candidates’ status, with Cain now having problems with his personal life, with Perry who can’t seem to debate and, according to the liberal media, Romney is now surging — why should I give you the vote, give you my vote?” Shaw asked.

“You’re asking the right question. I think it is because what I have proved and what America is looking for is a leader with a core of conviction, who is going to do what they say they’re going to do and mean what they say,” Bachmann said, adding a few moments later that voters are “looking for an authentic voice, a real voice that gets them and they don’t want someone who is going to vote one way and do something else.”

Listen to the AUDIO of the question and Bachmann’s response (there was cross-talk in the middle of it from the next questioner who came on the line early).

Bachmann closed the call by calling 2012 a “seminal election” and making her “don’t settle” argument.

“Too often we’ve put someone into office thinking they’re going to do something and they don’t do what they say they’re going to do. I have a proven record of five years in Washington, D.C., of being very different,” Bachmann said. “…You can count on me.”