HH: Joined now by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on the campaign trail, www.michelebachmann.com. Congresswoman, welcome back, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
MB: Always a pleasure to talk to you, Hugh Hewitt. You are a walking encyclopedia. It’s always fun.
HH: Well yeah, but earlier in this hour, I slipped and called Mitt Romney Mr. President. So I think I should call you Madame President as well. Has anyone done that yet?
MB: Equal opportunity. Yes, they have. And I think I like it.
HH: (laughing) Okay, I want to start with the same question I asked the governor, which is the Toomey-Hensarling tax hike is out there. The Supercommittee wants to lower rates, extend the current tax rates, but to do so at a cost of clipping the home mortgage interest deduction, the charitable deduction, the state and local income tax deduction. It’s a tax hike, Michele Bachmann. What do you think about it?
MB: I think no. Thumbs down. We can’t have tax hikes right now. Everyone knows that. And here, they’re offering tax hikes, and the Democrats are still saying no. I don’t think they’re going to get it anyway, and when you come out from a position of weakness, you don’t end up with a positive result. I spent a lot of my years as a negotiator. I’m a tax litigation attorney. And that’s not how I negotiate.
HH: Now are you surprised? You and Congressman Hensarling were up against each other for a period of time until I think you decided, really, you were going to run for president. And he’s a conservative. So are you surprised? And Pat Toomey’s a conservative.
MB: Well, they are, and that is their bona fides. They are both very strong conservatives. And I adore both of them. I think they’re both wonderful. But I was shocked when it came out. And I don’t know if maybe this came from leadership as opposed to from them. I have no idea. But I don’t think it’s reflective at all of what I’m seeing on the campaign trail. I’ve spent a lot of time in Iowa and South Carolina and these early primary states. I don’t see anyone who’s crying out for tax increases right now, unless it’s the far left, the OWS crowd. I don’t see it anywhere on Main Street.
HH: Congresswoman, I want to switch over to foreign affairs now. I just talked to Wolf Blitzer about the difficulty of asking people to talk, for example, about loose nukes in a minute or less. What do you think of these formats? And coming up to the Constitution Hall debate on foreign affairs by AEI and Heritage on Tuesday night, how do you make them more fair and more serious?
MB: Well, I wish they were. We released an email from CBS saying that they were purposefully trying to limit me on time. And that was apparent at the debate. I was trying to get into the debate. We were told that we should try to get in even more. And they shut me down at every corner. So unfortunately, some in the media are trying to pick the winners and the losers. They’re trying to pick who the next nominee will be, and that’s unfair to the American people. They don’t see it that way, because they see that this race is extremely fluid. It’s wide open as to who our nominee will be. I won the Iowa Straw Poll, and we have a very strong base of support there. And so we shouldn’t be counted out. In fact, our star is rising. So we see this as a very strong time to be able to get our message out. And foreign affairs is very, very important. I am the only candidate of all of the candidates who is currently engaged in national security and foreign affairs. I’m an active member on the House Intelligence Committee. We deal with the nation’s classified secrets. And even though, Hugh, this race will be about jobs and the economy, from my point of view, the most important issues facing the United States is a nuclear Iran, and President Obama’s failure to deal with this issue head-on.
HH: Now Congresswoman Bachmann, by the time you would be elected president, the American troop presence will be gone from Iraq for more than a year.
MB: That’s right.
HH: And I have asked Governor Romney earlier what he would think about reintroducing troops there. And he didn’t think that would be likely. What do you think about that?
MB: I think it’ll be very difficult. I think that once the troop presence has left, we’re already seeing the changes, and the troops haven’t left, and I’ll tell you how. We’re seeing the rise of sectarian violence. We’re seeing the rise of the Maliki government pushing the Sunnis away, which is not what the original intent was supposed to be. And we’re also seeing an Iraqi general who’s made his way up to Iran to meet with an Iranian general, and also a leader of the Kurds has also gone up to meet with the Iranians. This story isn’t lost on the Iraqis. They see that Iran will be the hegemony, and will be the lead presence in that region, and that other nations see that as well. This is a very bad outcome, because even though President Obama has chosen not to put meaningful sanctions on Iran, if subsequently we tried to put meaningful sanctions on Iran, whereby we deny purchases of oil from them with other nations banding together, or if we’re able to isolate their banking system, we could do so if we had an Iraq that would help us. But if Iran is dominating its influence in Iraq, then they’ll have access to ports, a banking system, legitimacy, and it’ll be almost impossible to isolate them, and they’ll be able to continue to build up their nuclear presence. This is, our options are only diminishing right now. And that’s because President Obama failed to deal with the real issue in the Middle East, which was a nuclear Iran.
HH: I’m talking with Michele Bachmann. Her website is www.michelebachmann.com, one L, two N’s. Congresswoman, in terms of, obviously you’re not going to disclose anything you learn from the House Intelligence Committee.
HH: But to the extent you can, how serious is the situation that has been written about in little snippets about the arms that were let loose in Libya after the fall of Qaddafi, and the various weapons of alleged mass destruction that were there?
MB: Well, you’re right. I can’t say anything other than to say from open source documents, this is extremely serious, because we’ve recognized that MANpads have gone missing, these are shoulder-fired missile rockets that can be put in the trunk of a car. They can be used, and have been used in the past, to bring down either a commercial aircraft or a military aircraft. So when these have gone missing, these could be used at any time, and American lives could certainly be at risk, and chemical weapons as well. This is a terrible mistake on the part of President Obama. He unilaterally chose to go into Libya without the consent of Congress. He did it on himself, and after that, he subsequently involved NATO. But again, remember, that we are the number one donor to NATO. And so the President did this, and while he did this, he did not secure the MANpads or some of these chemical weapons. And I can’t talk about what number may be missing, but it’s certainly something that I think everyone should be concerned about.
HH: And 30 seconds, Congresswoman, how’s the fundraising? And are you in the game through New Hampshire at least?
MB: We are in the game, and we are in this game to win, and we are inviting people to go to www.michelebachmann.com and be a part of our team. I want people to know I won the Iowa Straw Poll, because we did that very hard work. We’ve already identified more supporters for me in Iowa than Governor Huckabee had when he won the Iowa Caucuses. We have a very real shot, a strong shot, at winning in Iowa. So I’m inviting your listeners to get aboard our team and help us financially so we can win. People don’t have to settle if they go with Michele Bachmann.
HH: Congresswoman, always a pleasure, thank you.
End of interview.