Bachmann accuses US AG of “wilfull blindness”

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s name is in lights at the Smokey Row Coffeehouse in Oskaloosa. There’s an old “Rivola” movie marquee inside this room, with Bachmann’s name as a coming attraction; the other side of the marquee notes “open mic night is Nov. 5.”

Some of the folks who came to hear Bachmann ordered drinks which required the coffee grinder, so there was noise as she began speaking. Bachmann noted the sound. “Don’t worry about that. That’s the sign of the economy working,” she said.

“We must make a course correction in 2012 because I think this election is it for the country. We have to get a grip,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann touted her work as a “tax attorney” and the small business she and her husband started. “I knew a lot about the real world and how the real world works,” Bachmann said, contrasting that with what she sad was the “Fantasyland” she found in Washington, D.C. when she went to congress.

“It is not Monopoly Money, which means real people have to work real jobs and pay back all that debt,” she said.  Bachmann said the so-called “super committee” is tasked with coming up with $1 trillion in cuts over a 10 year period. “We should cut that out every single year,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann said people were concerned about the Federal Reserve’s actions, and “rightly so” she said. “The Federal Reserve is out of control with the money supply.”

Next up, border security and Bachmann’s vow to make English the official language of the United State government, which drew applause from the crowd.  

Bachmann accused U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of “wilfull blindness” through a rewrite of FBI training manuals.

“This week Eric Holder, the attorney general, made a decision that the FBI training manuals that are used for terrorism, he made a decision that those terror training manuals will not tolerate any FBI agent linking terror to Jihad or radical fundamentalist Islam. I’m not making this up. This just came this week, so you have a 900-pound gorilla in the room and you’re not allowed to notice anymore. This is an issue,” she said.  “…It’s time that we take off the politically-correct glasses and call this out for what it is and stand up for the American people.” 

The crowd applauded. She made similar comments yesterday, which the AP concluded were an exaggeration. 

More from the event later.

Bachmann @ IFFC speaks of “flatter, simpler, fairer income tax”

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was second to speak tonight.  During her speech, Bachmann made a declaration on the abortion issue:  “I stand for a constitutional amendment to protect life from conception to a natural death.”

She described herself as the “old woman in a shoe” (because of her 5 children and 23 foster children) and Bachmann stressed her Iowa roots. During her answers to the questions by the hosts of tonight’s event after her speech, Bachmann vowed to shut down swathes of the federal government, and the crowd applauded loudly.

“I will shut down the Dept. of Education. I will shut down the EPA. I will shut down the Dept. of Energy.  I will shut down the Dept. of Interior. I will shut down the Dept. of Commerce. We have got to decide once and for all, the federal government gets practically nothing right. Shut it down,. Send it back to the states. We can do this. The country will be better for it and it will lead to a pro-growth economy.” 

Bachmann has recently said she would return the country to a Reagan-era tax code.  Tonight Bachmann seemed to say something slightly different. “I will abolish the United States federal tax code and have a flatter, simpler, fairer income tax,” she said.

Bachmann suggests recent Cain statements raise questions

Touting her own membership on the House Intelligence Committee, Michele Bachmann says rival Herman Cain has made some “shocking” statements on foreign policy issues.  Cain recently said if he were asked to name the president of Uzbekistan, he wouldn’t know the man’s name — because knowing the answer wouldn’t create jobs in the United States.  This past Tuesday, Cain said he “misspoke” when talking about negotiating with terrorists over the release of hostages.

“I think people were especially shocked just this last week when, just two hours before the last debate in Las Vegas, Mr. Cain had gone on a show with Wolf Blitzer and said that he would be open to negotiating all of the prisoners that are in Guantanamo Bay in exchange for a United States hostage and I think that was shocking when people heard that, and then during the course of the debate he reiterated a similar statement, that he would be willing to engage in that kind of a negotiation,” Bachmann said today.  “Certainly we would never do anything like that.  That’s not our history in the United States….One thing that I know without a shadow of a doubt, as president of the United States I wouldn’t even consider negotiating those who are prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, to release them in exchange for an American hostage. That’s just something we would never do.  That would only courage further hostage taking.”

Bachmann made her comments during an interview this afternoon with Radio Iowa.  She also brought up Cain’s recent interview on CNN in which he made what have been characterized as confusing statements about his views on abortion.

“Clearly the words out of his mouth indicated that he was in favor of a pro-abortion position, so I think there’s a lot of questions that people have (about Cain),” Bachmann said.  “I’m 100 percent prolife.”

Both Bachmann and Cain are among the candidates who will speak tomorrow night in Des Moines at a forum hosted by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.

Bachmann says reports of NH staff exodus “not true” (audio)

Michele Bachmann called into the Radio Iowa newsroom moments ago.  My first question was about a WMUR report that her campaign staff in New Hampshire quit.

“That is a shocking story to me,” Bachmann said. “I don’t know where that came from.  We have called staff in New Hampshire to find out where that came from and the staff have said that isn’t true, so I don’t know if this is just a bad story that’s being fed by a different candidate or campaign. I have no idea where this came from, but we’ve made calls and it’s certainly not true.”

I asked this follow-up:  So none of your staff have quit?

“Not to our knowledge,” Bachmann said. “We’re trying to call everyone and find out if there’s any truth to the story.  Everyone that we’ve gotten a hold of has said that they were shocked as well. There’s no truth to that story, so this is a rumor and I think it’s highly reprehensible for the media to publish a story without calling us, the campaign, to even find out if that’s true. This is what’s really wrong with politics. It’s highly irresponsible media to spread stories and print stories that aren’t verified and aren’t true. I think this is wrong.”

AUDIO of Bachmann’s response to questions about New Hampshire staff.

UPDATE:  Here’s the Radio Iowa story, with a link to The New Hampshire Union Leader’s story on this subject.

Bachmann finally says “Governor Perry”

Michele Bachmann got a final question from the crowd at her event in Perry, Iowa, about repealing the health care reform law with executive orders.  It was at this point, 55 minutes into the event, that she said the name of her rival.

“With all due respect to Governor Perry, it’s naive to think you can get rid of ObamaCare with an executive order,” she said, adding in a critique of Perry’s assertion yesterday that he would use executive power (rather than seek congressional action) to make changes that would revive the country’s energy sector. “…He’s wrong.”

Bachmann to sign “pledge” on border security

A South Carolina man who heads “Americans for Securing the Borders” is in Perry, Iowa, this morning to witness Michele Bachmann putting her John Hancock on a huge piece of paper.  She’s holding a campaign event here to sign a pledge. By signing this one, Bachmann is promising that she will secure the border if she’s elected president.

Van Hipp, chairman of  Americans for Securing the Borders, told me in an interview that too many candidates have paid mere “lip service” to the issue.  “Nothing really gets done,” Hipp said. “We believe by having a pledge like this it really is the best way to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire so we’re calling on all federal candidates for president, for senate and for the House to sign the pledge to secure the border of this country and to make America safer.”

According to Hipp, the group issued this “pledge” challenge in the “past week or so” and Bachmann is the first presidential candidate to sign it.  “The first one with the backbone to step up to the plate and get serious about this is Michele Bachmann,” Hipp said.

I asked if his group had heard from the Perry campaign (it hasn’t) and I specifically asked whether Rick Perry’s support for the Texas policy which grants a college tuition break to illegal immigrants in some way “disqualifies” Perry on the immigration issue.

“We want him to sign the pledge,” Hipp said. “…We are looking forward to the other candidates signing the pledge as well.”

Bachmann is due to appear in the Hotel Patee’s ballroom soon for the pledge-signing event.  (UPDATE: Here’s a live blog from the event, plus two follow up posts here — she finally said “Governor Perry” at the 55 minute mark — and here.)

Another UPDATE: When I asked Hipp where he was from, he told me he was from South Carolina. Hipp used to be chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party (in the late 1980s). He is currently working in D.C. as a consultant.

Bachmann: I have over 250,000 donors; average donation $50 (AUDIO)

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann just held an event followed by a news conference in Des Moines.  The final question was about her fundraising.  Bachmann said she has had over 250,000 donors and the average donation is $50.

Immediately afterwards Alice Stewart, Bachmann’s campaign spokeswoman, approached the media table, saying Bachmann “misspoke a tiny bit” and the 250,000 donor number is “over the course of her entire political career” (as a member of congress).  The average donation to the Bachmann for President campaign is between “$50 and $60” according to Stewart.

UPDATE with the actual text of the quote from Bachmann:  “We’re very grateful. We have had extremely supportive, generous people. We have something like 250,000 donors to our campaign.  That’s a tremendous amount of donors and our average donation is $50, so we’re extremely grateful to have a broad-based level of support from people all across the country and so we’re extremely grateful for that and even despite how difficult this economy has been, people have always continued to manage to send in money and we’re very, very careful with that money. We’re very prudent.”

AUDIO of Bachmann’s answer to fundraising question

Five candidates say yes to Family Leader event

The Family Leader folks announced today that five GOP presidential candidates have agreed to appear at the group’s event in November.  Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul & Santorum have RSVP’d yes.  The group says Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have been “invited” but haven’t said yes or no yet.  Information from the group’s news release is copied below.

Saturday, November 19
4:00-6:00 PM
First Federated Church, Des Moines
 
The Thanksgiving Family Forum will not be your typical “debate”.  Instead, it will be a family discussion with the Republican Presidential candidates.  The candidates will be seated around a table in a family-friendly setting designed to learn not only what the candidates think about family issues, but also why they think what they think.   
 
We were intentional about selecting the weekend before Thanksgiving in the hope of giving Iowans something to discuss at the Thanksgiving dinner table. 
 
Candidates:
Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum (confirmed); Rick Perry and Mitt Romney (invited)

Co-Sponsors: 

CitizenLink (A Focus on the Family Affiliate)
National Organization for Marriage
 
Location: First Federated Church, 4801 Franklin Ave., Des Moines, IA 
Time:  4:00-6:00 PM
Ticket Price:  $40
Family Pack:  4 Tickets for $125
  
Note:  All solicitation of funds in connection with this event are by The FAMiLY LEADER and not by any candidate.  Paid for by The FAMiLY LEADER and not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee. 

Bachmann says GOP conservatives shouldn’t “settle” in 2012

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann talked with me by phone this morning as she made her way to the airport in Florida after speaking to a gathering of conservatives there this morning.  I asked a couple of questions based on what happened in last night’s debate.

During the debate, Rick Perry said this about Bachmann, Romney & Santorum when it comes to the immigration issue: “I do not think you have a heart.”  I asked Bachmann to respond directly to that assertion.

“When it comes to the issue of immigration I think that Iowans have a very strong, decided opinion about that. I believe firmly that the federal government has let down the American people by not securing the border. I would build a fence. I wouldn’t call building a fence idiocy. That’s what Governor Perry had said.  Beyond building the fence, I also believe that we ned to have strong border security. I also believe that we should not be offering taxpayer-subsidized benefits for people who break our laws and come into the United States  illegally. I would not offer taxpayer-subsidized benefits for illegal aliens or their children,” Bachmann said. “And I think it’s a point well taken last evening when Governor Perry continued to defend his position to offer taxpayer-subsidized benefits for illegal aliens that that was not well received by people that were in arena. But I can attest to that all across America and, particularly, all across Iowa because I’ve been in all four corners of Iowa and in between. People are very tired of supporting illegal aliens with their taxes.”

I also asked Bachmann about the HPV vaccine issue, which was again discussed last night.  Specifically, I asked Bachmann this: “Do you believe this particular vaccine is unsafe. There was a move in Iowa by a group of folks who were concerned about the safety of vaccines about six years and they sought to forbid the use of a particular preservative, a mercury-based preservative in vaccines.  Do you think vaccines are safe or unsafe, in general, and what about this particular vaccine, specifically?”

Bachmann: “Well, of course, the remarks that I gave were simply relating a story by a mother who came up to me after, not at this debate, but at the previous debate, about what happened to her daughter. And that’s all I was doing was relating the story. The real issue and the real point of my remarks was that fact that Governor Perry unilaterally made a decision forcing 12-year-old girls to have a shot because he said so.”

She didn’t respond directly to the safety element of the question.  Bachmann recounted her attack on Perry for the HPV executive order and then seemed to widen it a bit to include Romney. While she specifically said Perry’s name during her response, she didn’t invoke Romney’s name when she said:  “We need to have a nominee who will run against President Obama who is not compromised on the issue of mandates and health care…I am the candidate on that stage who introduced the bill to repeal ObamaCare and I will not rest until we do.”

Bachmann soon added that she is the only “proven, consistent, constitutional conservative” in the race, “with a core set of convictions.”

Bachmann again cited immigration, health care and crony capitalism as key issues in rating a candidate’s conservative credentials. “This is an election when we shouldn’t settle for a candidate,” Bachmann said. “And every four years conservatives are told they need to settle and they need to step back for a candidate who is moderate or perhaps a compromise candidate.  In this election, of all elections, we need to have a bold, clear distinction with our candidate.”

Bachmann will be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday. Bachmann says she left a voice mail message for Cindy Golding, the GOP’s candidate in a special election in the area to fill an open state senate seat.  “I’ll be happy to be raising money for her and campaigning for her,” Bachmann said. “And we’re hoping that she’ll win and we want to see the senate have another Republican.”  Background on the race here.  Bachmann’s Iowa campaign manager is Kent Sorenson, one of the 24 Republicans who currently serve in the Iowa Senate.

Laid-off state worker seeks IA House seat held by Ron Paul backer

A woman who worked in the Iowa Workforce Development office in Denison until the Branstad Administration closed the office (and 36 others) down is going for a new job, as a state legislator.  Kasey Friedrichsen would face state Representative Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, who is the incumbent in the new district — if she wins the Democratic nomination in House District 18.  Schultz has endorsed Ron Paul’s bid for the GOP’s presidential nomination, so a Ron Paul “money bomb” of some sort for Schultz may be part of the dynamic in this race.  Paul helped several state legislative candidates raise money for 2010 races, including a fundraiser for Kent Sorenson, the state senator who is now managing Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign.)

Iowa House District 18 has a GOP voter registration edge of just over 1300. Denison is the largest city in the district. Read the news release below.

Denison, Iowa – Denison native Kasey Friedrichsen announced today that she will run for state representative in District 18, which includes Shelby County and parts of Crawford and Harrison Counties.

“This district needs a state representative who listens to people, puts politics aside and does what’s best for us,” said Friedrichsen, who grew up in the Denison-Schleswig area. “I’ve worked with hundreds of citizens in our community who are looking for work or need to upgrade their skills to land a good-paying job.  In these tough economic times, we must do all we can to create jobs, put Iowans back to work, and help our community thrive and grow.” [Read more…]