Bachmann slices raw meat, stiff-arms ?s about Rollins’ statements

Bachmann cutting meat in Des Moines.

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann visited a meat locker in Des Moines today, providing images that you are likely to see over and over on your television.  There was a room full of hanging carcasses and, before Bachmann arrived, reporters were witness to the use of a meat hook and a hand saw, as a slab of fresh beef was cut so Bachmann would be able to slice into some red meat herself when she arrived.

Bachmann held a news conference in the “cutting room” where the meat is “processed”  (let’s just say I’m off beef for a few days because of this visit).  Bachmann was asked about her dropping poll numbers.

“Well, we’re here in Iowa. Again, we went through the Straw Poll process. We saw another candidate emerge and now, of course, that always changes the dynamic. But we’re doing exactly what we need to do. We’re here in Iowa, meeting with people, engaging with people, listening to them and talking about what their concerns are. My focus is on turning the economy around and creating jobs and that’s why we’re here today in Iowa.”

The next question was about comments yesterday from Ed Rollins, her former campaign manager. (Rollins said Bachmann didn’t have the money to compete beyond Iowa and Rollins suggested there is a “status gap” between Bachmann and Perry.)

“Well, we do not agree. We have sufficient resources to be able to do what we’re doing and that’s to be very competitive in this race. We’re delighted to be able to be here. We’ve had a wonderful experience in Iowa. We intend to be here and just this last week we were in AZ, CA, FL, SC — we’ve been all over the United States and we intend to compete and go forward. We have a very positive campaign.”   

AUDIO: news conference in Des Moines 14 min


Ed Rollins on Bachmann’s Huckabee strategy

Steve Brown of FOX News quotes former Bachmann campaign manager Ed Rollins on the “Huckabee” strategy.  (A “has to win Iowa” is in there, along with Mr. Rollins’ reference to the “status gap” between Bachmann and Perry.)

Bachmann not a fan of Obama plan (audio)

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was asked about the “Buffett Rule” this morning during an interview on KRIB Radio in Mason City.

AUDIO: Bachmann’s answer 1 min

Here’s a key portion:

“President Obama’s definition of a billionaire is a small business owner that’s making $200,000 a year in his business. Those are called the employers and, again, the president really misunderstands where jobs come from. Most of the jobs come from small businesses and small businesses run their income through their business and these are the businesses that will end up being taxed and it will mean fewer jobs.”

Read more here.

Bachmann draws “strong mark of demarcation” with Perry, Romney (audio)

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann spoke with Radio Iowa by phone this afternoon, with Social Security the main topic of conversation. Without naming competitor Rick Perry (although I did in the questions), Bachmann said federal policymakers have to “keep faith” with current Social Security beneficiaries.  “That’s wrong for any candidate to make senior citizens believe that they should be nervous about something they have come to count on. We need not do that, but I think at the same time we also outline our positive solutions,” Bachmann said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

AUDIO: Bachmann’s 9.9.11 Radio Iowa interview (runs 6 1/2 min)

Now, to the details of our conversation. I began by directly asking Bachmann if she thinks Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and whether she would favor having states run Social Security.

“Let me say first of all I voted against the bill that the president put forward last December that took $111 billion of revenues away from the Social Security Trust Fund this year. That’s the lowering of the payroll tax,” Bachmann said. “We didn’t see one shred of evidence that that created any jobs. Unfortunately what it did was it not only depleted money into the Social Security Trust Fund, it forced the Social Security Trust Fund to dip into the general treasury, which there isn’t any money there. There’s only moths and feathers in the general treasury which meant we had to either borrow that money or else print money to be able to pay for the Social Security checks. That put senior citizens at risk.

“What I think about Social Security is that the United States made a decision 80 years ago about retirement for senior citizens. I do believe that Social Security is in trouble going forward. It needs to be reformed and modified so that we can keep the promise that’s been made to senior citizens.  We can’t ask anyone that’s on Social Security right now to change their benefits. We just can’t because people have made their plans. They’ve made their live’s decisions in such a way depending upon what they expected was to be an earned income for the remainder of their life.

“But we also know that going forward Social Security has some very big challenges that need to be addressed and I am willing and able to be able to be up to that challenge to deal with the reforms that need to be made to make Social Security solid. But I do think, again, that the decision has been made. We have Social Security and we need to work within that system.”

So what sort of reforms would she support?

“Well of course that’s an issue that will take quite a bit of time and it won’t take just one person because this an 80-year-growing problem and this is one that will require a bipartisan solution, Republicans and Democrats coming together. It was Republicans and Democrats who both voted to create Social Security and they’ll have to come together to make it solvent,” Bachmann said. “I know we can. We have very smart people in this country who have to deal with pensions all the time. I’m a former federal tax lawyer. I’ve had to deal with the issue of ERISA law and this is something we can bring good people together to make this solvent, actuaries or other people who know how to make this happen and we can. We have to keep the faith with senior citizens, but we also can’t deny the future upcoming generations of young people their right to have a chance, too.  We can do this. I have no doubt. We can figure this out, but we need to make sure we keep our promises.”

Bachmann was on Iowa Press late this spring when Paul Ryan was getting flack for his Medicare proposal.  At that time, Bachmann said it should be called the “55-and-under plan” because “messaging” was important.  My direction question to her was this: “Do you think your party needs to be equally careful in its messaging on Social Security? Using phrases like ‘monstrous lie’ — do you think that is good messaging?”

“I think that it is not good when President Obama, for instance, made the comment — recklessly, in my opinion — that seniors may not get their Social Security checks in August when we were dealing with the debt ceiling debate,” Bachmann said. “That was irresponsible for the president to do that. He created a great deal of fear. In fact, I was in Dexter, Iowa with senior citizens and I was told by them that there were those that had cancelled some of their bills. They had cancelled services into their home like the internet and cable and other services because they thought the president was telling them they weren’t going to get a Social Security check.

“That’s wrong for any candidate to make senior citizens believe that they should be nervous about something they have come to count on. We need not do that. But I think at the same time we also outline our positive solutions. That’s what I’m trying to do and I’m looking forward to doing that, one of which will be to oppose the president’s plan last evening and that was to once again take money, revenues out of the Social Security Trust Fund with his proposal last evening. I think that knowing that we are adding even more Baby Boomers into the Social Security system, we can’t add more people who are going to be pulling on the system without putting revenues in it, so we have to get our house in order.”

My last question was about the retooling of the Bachmann campaign in Iowa.  I told her I’ve talked with a few people who voted for her at the Straw Poll, but are now supporters of Rick Perry.  “How do you deal with the changed atmosphere here in Iowa and what sort of steps will you take to deal with the new reality of the new competition?”

“Well, there’s always changes when you have new candidates come in. This certainly happened in Iowa the last go around. Fred Thompson came into the race very late. He came in number one, in that he had about 31 percent support. Rudy Giuliani came into the race very late. He also had a very high level of support. People thought that Fred Thompson was going to be the Republican nominee. People thought Rudy Giuliani would be the Republican nominee, but that isn’t who our nominee was.

“I have a very strong level of support in Iowa. I’m very grateful to Iowans for that level of support. People I believe, again, know me and trust me. I will be back again in Iowa this weekend and we have been contacting our supporters across the state and we’ve been holding the line with people who not only are saying that they’re supportive, we’re bringing many, many new people in as well because I have a very strong pro-growth policy,” Bachmann said, then she added the most pointed comments of the interview. “And I’ve demonstrated something that the other candidates haven’t — that’s a level of consistency as a conservative.  I never supported the government take-over of health care, but the other two leading candidates have. I did not support the stimulus bill, but we have the other two leading candidates, or at least one that has, and I did not support the bail-out and we have other leading candidates who have, so there is a strong mark of demarcation between us and I think people will find that out in the debates.”

Bachmann plans to be in Ames tomorrow, attending a tailgate party outside the stadium where Iowa and Iowa State will play a football game. “I have something in common with the Iowa State Cyclones. I’ve won in Ames and so have the Cyclones,” Bachmann joked as she rang off, a reference to her Iowa Straw Poll victory in Ames back on August 13, “so I look forward to being there with all my friends.”

Bachmann & the Tea Party Express

By 4:45 p.m. a small crowd gathered in a grassy area in Water Works Park in Des Moines. The Tea Party Express bus is idling nearby, with the Bachmann campaign bus (we are led to believe) due here soon.  At one point there were more tents and tables than people, but the # of people at 5:11 p.m. edged ahead in the count.

By 5:30 p.m. Michele Bachmann was speaking to the crowd.  The Tea Party Express folks didn’t have a working sound system for the media, so I stood like Lady Liberty, with one arm in the air, holding a recorder in the air to get sound coming from a loud speaker.

“We had an interesting little dialogue today with the president. He decided that he wanted to give this jobs speech at the exact same time when the Republican candidates for president are going to be doing a debate at the Reagan Library. Now does this show maybe a little insecurity on the part of the president? Either a.) he wants to distract the American people so they don’t watch it or b.) he doesn’t want the American people to hear what the next president of the United States is going to say about the president’s (she may have said ‘jobs program” but at this point the recording is unintelligible) because he hasn’t exactly delivered on his promises for jobs.  Is that an understatement? I think so.”

A little later Bachmann advocated for the flat tax. “My opinion is everyone should pay something in taxes, even if it is a dollar,” Bachmann said.

She concluded with her “change of address” line about Obama. “We won the Straw Poll. We’re going to win the Caucus,” Bachmann said to conclude.

Bachmann headed back to Iowa

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann won the Iowa GOP’s Straw Poll on August 13, appeared at an event in Waterloo on Sunday the 14th and left the state to campaign elsewhere.  She’s spent a good deal of time in Florida this week, but plans to return to Iowa on Wednesday for a Tea Party rally.  News release below:

The Tea Party Express (, is pleased to announce a leading presidential candidate will join the tour this week to address the tea party audience. Michele Bachmann, who has attended rallies on previous Tea Party Express tours, will speak at the event in Des Moines, IA on Wednesday 8/31.

[Read more…]

EPB II, featuring Bachmann, Perry, Santorum (AUDIO)

It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was sitting at this very booth in the Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo (it was June 26), but tonight there’s not just one candidate but three GOP hopefuls who are scheduled to speak here.

Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the ballroom as the folks running the sound system blasted “Deep in the Heart of Texas” over the speakers.  A swarm of cameras, microphones, reporters, and photographers followed Perry through the landscape of round tables where the local folks were seated, enjoying pre-dinner drinks before the meal was served.

Perry spoke about the “green” of Iowa, compared to the tinder-dry Texas landscape. A reporter asked whether economic or social issues were paramount in 2012.

“Everybody’s got their own issues that matter, but at the end of the day, getting America working again is what the bulk of the people really care about,” Perry said.

Several people in the room said they didn’t know much about Perry, but were willing to give him a look-see.  One man suggested “Perry/Bachmann 2012” might be a good idea.

Perry told reporters he would spend “a lot of time in Iowa” — but he uttered the “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” line about the nature of the presidential race.

[Read more…]

Bachmann: “I’m not a politician. I’m a real person.”

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann spoke with Radio Iowa by phone this afternoon.  As was the case during her spin through the “Sunday shows” Bachmann did not directly engage with Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry and Bachmann are due to appear this evening at the Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo — Bachmann’s hometown.

“Tonight I came back to Waterloo so I can say thank you to everyone,” Bachmann said.  “…We had a lot of people come down from Waterloo (to Ames to support her in the Straw Poll) and I want to say thank you.”

The Straw Poll was “step number one of a very long journey,” according to Bachmann.  “…I intend to earn every Iowans’ vote.”

I asked if her head and “titanium spine” just decided Rick Perry wasn’t going to get to plant his flag in her hometown.

She said the Black Hawk County Republican Party fundraiser this evening was something she had always hoped to put on her schedule.  “I had a family reunion…north of  Waterloo today,” she said, adding she’s been around a lot of family today.

I asked her what lessons she’d learned in the Straw Poll that would be replicated in the Caucus campaign.  “It’s a very simple strategy,” she said. “It is one person and one vote and one county at a time,” she said. “…I intend to continue to work very, very hard.”

I asked about “anti-establishment” candidates like herself and Ron Paul winning the majority of votes yesterday.  She suggested the seeds for that had been planted with what happened in Washington since January, 2009. “We saw a lot of Democrats and independents and apolitical people cast votes in 2010 against what was happening in D.C.”

She described herself as an “authentic person with an authentic voice” and that’s why her message is “resonating” with voters.

“I’m not a politician,” she said. “I’m a real person.”

Round 4: Bachmann asked if she’ll be submissive to her husband

The jaw-dropping moment of the debate came in the fourth round, which opened with a series of questions about faith, specifically statements the candidates have made about various faiths and their own faith.

Byron York of The Washington Examiner asked Michele Bachmann: “As president, would you be submissive to your husband?”

The crowd booed.

Bachmann waited a bit, smiling, then said: “Thank you for that question, Byron…What submission means to us, it means respect. I respect my husband…and he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage.”

The segment ended with a series of questions about the economy.  One final round left.

Round 2: Gingrich v. media, Santorum v Bachmann, Pawlenty v RomneyCare

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was the central character in the opening of round two of tonight’s debate in Ames.  Gingrich rapped Chris Wallace of FOX News, accusing him of asking “gotcha questions” and followed that a bit later by referencing “Mickey Mouse games” in the media. It’s a media Gingrich alleged pays too little interest to “the ideas that distinguish us from Barack Obama” and too much attention to campaign minutia.

It also bears mentioning in this context of confrontation-with-the-media that Romney, in round one of the debate, also hit back Bret Baier of FOX News with, “I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food,” when pressed to say whether he — Romney — would have vetoed the debt ceiling deal congress passed earlier this month.

It was also in this round that Santorum criticized Bachmann for a sort of all-or-nothing strategy on legislating and governing.  “You need people who are good at leadership, not showmanship,” Santorum said.

Pawlenty near the end of this round was given another swing at the “RomneyCare” question he was asked in the last debate.

“I don’t want to miss that chance again, Chris,” Pawlenty said, saying “RomneyCare” was a “fair label.” Pawlenty also poked at some other points of Romney’s record as governor, saying, “we’re going to have to show contrast, not similarities” with President Obama.

Romney was allowed to jump in at this point. “I think I liked Tim’s answer at the last debate better,” Romney quipped.  He offered his 10th amendment defense.

Bachmann was then asked whether she believes states have the authority to require people to buy health insurance.  “Government is without authority to compel a person to purchase a product or service,” Bachmann said.

Paul, when he was asked to weigh in, said both parties have developed a medical system that is “based on corporatism.”

Santorum jumped in, arguing there are limits to states rights, such as when states try to allow polygamy.